Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiveness…

2 Sam 19 “Forgiveness…”

Chapter 19 is the completion of a saga that had torn apart the nation and although the nation is not completely healed, David takes the extraordinary step of forgiving those who had slandered, lied, and did many other things. It takes a broken heart to step out of your comfort zone to forgive those who have done those things and David once again shows us why God said he was a man after God’s own heart. God forgives us from all our sins, big or little. God takes the extraordinary step of reaching down from heaven to reveal His heart to all of mankind. Some accept and some reject. Our job is to follow His example and forgive those who have wronged us just as Jesus did as they nailed him to that tree.

Could we do any less?

Vengeance is mine saith the Lord and HE will deal with all of those who have sinned against us. That is a truth you can take to the bank. God is gracious and although our hearts are broken, God’s love covers those sins. Love covers a multitude of sins—trust me I know from personal experience. Perhaps you have as well and if you feel comfortable, share how God used your forgiveness to unify that which was broken.

2sam 19 love covers the broken hearted2a

 

 

If Jesus Could Forgive, Why Can’t You and I?

he-who-is-without-sin-cast-first-stone2Cor 2 “Will you Forgive?”

Forgiveness seems to be one of the hardest steps we are called to take. Why is that? Is it pride? Is it because we want the offender to feel the pain we are feeling? We often reject taking this step and in fact we feed on the reasons why we don’t have to. Beloved this only leads to a root of bitterness. But Paul uses the word “charizomai” which means to freely forgive as Christ has forgiven you. Imagine with me if Christ had withheld forgiveness from Peter the denier. Christ not only forgave Peter but restored him with full authority. If Christ could forgive why can’t you and I? In our pride do we think we are greater than Christ?

What is the consequence of withholding forgiveness? First and foremost if you do not forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive you. [Mat 6:15] Secondly, a lack of forgiveness leads to a root of bitterness. Thirdly, we open the door to the work of the enemy. We must not be ignorant of his schemes to defraud through lies, deceit, pride, and yes afflictions. “Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.” [M. Henry]

Jesus said, he who is without sin cast the first stone. He meant to acknowledge we too have sins and are in need of forgiveness. We are no different than the one who injured us. Jesus forgave Peter and the woman caught in adultery; you and I.  Can we do less?

 

 

 

 

Psalm 51 “Sin, Forgiveness and Grace”

psalm 51 forgiveness2Had King David remembered:  “sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” he would not have experienced an adulterous affair with Bathsheba nor committed murder to cover it up. Yet David concealed his sin and why  God sent Nathan the prophet to him. As David realized this, a profound thought came to him as he confessed before a Holy God. “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

No matter who the persons are involved, the sin is in reality against God and Christ who saved us and washed us from our sin.  Like David, we think our sin is concealed or it does not impact anyone other than ourselves but this is a lie out of the pit of hell. Galatians reminds us that God will not be mocked and we reap what we sow. God told David, “ Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.[ 2Sa 12:10]

When David repented he heard Nathan the prophet say, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” Reflecting on this, David entered the house of the Lord and experienced God’s  greatest gift and mystery called forgiveness. All we have to do is to ask God to “Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin!” Open hearts are ready to receive God’s grace and lovingkindness and understand more clearly God’s grace.

How do we know that transaction of forgiveness has taken place? Like David, we will experience peace and joy even as we face the consequences that follow.

 

Are You Ever Ashamed of Christ?

1john 2 not ashamed2aWhat would be your answer to that question? There more “shamers” amongst us than we want to readily admit. Let’s look at the evidence.  The disciples failed to trust Jesus to provide sustenance for the crowd. Is this us too?  Do we like the Pharisees look for a sign rather than trust Him? Are we often ungrateful when we see Him work like the healed blind man but fail to stop and say thank you? Are we silent before others when we set our interests on men’s ways rather than on God’s ways?

Jesus asked the disciples “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered “you are the Christ,” yet in the next breath he began to rebuke Christ when He spoke of his suffering to come. Jesus reminded him that his agenda was man’s not God’s. Perhaps that is why right after that Jesus asked: You want to be my follower? Then you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. If you ashamed of me now in this life, I will be ashamed of you in the life to come.

Let’s get personal: When we quench the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit to trust Him; when we fail to give Him the glory it might be because we are ashamed. Today, be quiet before the Holy Spirit and see if any of these are true. If so, seek His forgiveness so that at his appearing you may stand with confidence!  [1Jn2]

Photo credit: Christianimages.

Therefore…..Not Condemned….Romans 7

rom 8 nothing separate2A TV series was aptly titled “As the World Turns” and so it is with those whose lives are bound up by the adversary the Devil. They live in hostility against a holy God whose “wrath…is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,” [Rom 1]. But we who are in Christ Jesus are no longer under God’s condemnation! “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him” [Jn 3]

Beloved, we have received this sacrificial gift of redemption! Even when our adversary comes bringing a Scarlet Letter to hang about our neck to condemn us we have this truth: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We no longer need to be “afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” [Mt 10] Instead we can recite the words of Micah “I will wait for the God who delivers me..” And this why we can echo “If God is for us, who can be against us?….[we are] “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You Know it is True!

Hebrews 13 all about J+2Over the past few weeks we have been inundated with photos, news articles and then the shooting in Charleston. The latter showed us truly: One can only face a tragedy like this when you know this principle: It is ALL ABOUT JESUS!  And that has been whole purpose of the letter titled simply:  Hebrews.

The author has spent 13 chapters exhorting the believers to stand strong and firm in their faith. It is choosing to abandon the world’s standards to live and walk by faith. Part of that is knowing how to forgive when the unforgivable happens, when your loved ones are no longer with you and you cannot touch them, speak to them, and hear their responses. The heartache is deep and only through the forgiving power of Jesus can one get through it.

The author exhorts them to remember this: It is all about Jesus and that He alone be glorified. Our external works, what we say and what we do are mere pictures of our love for Him; for His sacrifice; for His work of grace; for His example. But, all that we do is mere rubbish if we do it for our glory and not for His. The whole reason that God prepared a body for him was so that he might be the perfect Lamb of God. He is superior to angels, Moses and anyone else and it is because of His sacrifice that we can draw near to the throne of God. His sacrifice cleanses our consciences because He endured the cross. And this is the reason we can cling to this promise: as our Good Shepherd He will never leave us nor abandon us. And this is the point of the entire letter to the Hebrews: it is all about Jesus and His glory.

John Piper sums up Hebrews this way: “Christ has revealed himself to us again and again for our encouragement and our hope and our perseverance, so that we might have strength and love to meet together and stir each other up to live well and to die well by faith, which is the assurance of things hoped for.”

I don’t know about you but my heart aches for those 9 families in Charleston and their church. But, I am also trusting that Romans 8 is also true:  we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, That young man had listened so long to hate speech that he thought he had the last word but God alone has the last word. The world is watching …are we forgiving enough to let God perform His good work?

Cascading Dominoes of Forgiveness

ImageRecently there was a domino contest to see how many dominoes could be erected and then sent cascading down one upon another.  The Guinness world record was shattered when 275,000 dominoes fell one after another revealing a stunning picture before the audience of onlookers.

How long a line of dominoes have we erected of those whose sins we are unwilling to forgive just as the wicked forgiven servant in Matthew 18 did? He erected his own set of dominoes and kept adding to them one at a time. He had the power to topple them by just echoing the one word “forgiven” just as he had received from the Master—but he refused to do so. He failed to look back and see his line of dominoes not standing but lying for the Master had graciously and mercifully chosen with a flick of His finger to send them toppling to reveal a beautiful picture of forgiveness and cleansing.

The question then before us is; will we keep erect the dominoes of other’s sins against us as a reminder of their hurt or will we willingly offer the cup of cold water, the words of forgiveness to God’s chosen people who have also been forgiven by Him? Listen to Jesus: “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven times; unlimited times!” [Matt 18]

Let’s dig deeper. Suppose we asked God to do as David did by asking Him to examine us in the night. Would our dominoes remain standing or fall? Look at what David said: “you have examined me during the night. You have carefully evaluated me, but you find no sin. I am determined I will say nothing sinful.” When we can pray those words back to God each domino we have erected will fall one after another until a beautiful picture of total forgiveness lays before us and others.

So today, Beloved, gather your dominoes and with a flick of the finger send them cascading into the beautiful pattern of forgiveness. Let them lay there for awhile as you muse what God has truly done. And then you can recite Ps 17:15 as your prayer to God for this new day: “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.”

Remember these wise words when you consider your choice. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “the Gods we worship write their names on our faces; be sure of that . . . thus, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.”

The True Proverbs 31 Women!

ImageChrist came to “seek and save the lost” and we have seen how that has been accomplished right up to the very moment of his death when he gave the cup of salvation to the criminal beside him. And now behold the women who come first to the tomb where supposedly his body lay interred but what a glorious gift of resurrection awaits: Pro 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

All through Luke we have seen the power of Christ’s love bestowed upon the many and women in particular. It is these who have been shunned; interrogated; castigated by the religious leaders and society that Christ bestows equal status in the kingdom. We saw the woman caught in adultery, the faith of the Canaanite woman, the service offered by the women of the court, those who stood by the cross weeping and now at the tomb seeking to serve once again the Master.

It is with great honor that step by step we walk in the hush of the early morning hours before the dawn of day with these women. They have risen early, prepared their person and the aromatic spices even though their hearts are heavy. They are the true Proverbs 31 women: “She also gets up while it is still night; She begins her work vigorously; She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy; and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  With great anticipation that someone would be ready to assist and help in their time of need, they step forth into the hush of the city streets with resolve to anoint the body of their Lord.  Imagine their shock to see not a sealed tomb but one open! With great bravery they enter and because of their fearless boldness are greeted by two angelic visitors: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” It is only then that their grief is startled and their memories recall the words of Jesus.

Beloved, are we are as bold, resourceful, faithful as these women whom God has honored? Or are we like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who hear from the risen Christ: “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” May we resolve to pray that our spiritual understanding is awakened in the hush of the early morning hours when we may meet heaven speaking to our hearts. It is these that receive the glorious news.  Oh, Beloved how precious is our Lord to fulfill to us his followers, His love and forgiveness.

 

Forgiveness Heals Two Wounds

ImageI am sure you have met people who report their lack of attendance at the house of God on worship days because “there are hypocrites there.” Welcome to the neighborhood, we are all hypocrites in one shape or other. We offend because we fail to think, we judge because we feel we are superior in our spiritual understanding, we respond with forked tongue more often than not. Jesus remarked that if we are to be found faithful we must be faithful in much as well as trustworthy. We must be honest in all of our relationships and demonstrate to the world God’s way of responding. Jesus had just taught about Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man had every opportunity to forgive and respond in kindness but he chose not to do so and now Jesus follows up that in chapter 17.

The rich man’s problem was that he chose to offend, he chose to be a stumbling block, and he chose to ignore Lazarus’ need. Jesus begins by saying, yes offenses will come, but WOE to the one that is the cause. And so he bridges from this parable to teach his disciples about kingdom life. He said “watch/guard yourself” in how you respond as the true test of kingdom living is forgiveness even if someone offends or abuses us 7 times in a day and returns to seek forgiveness OR even if they do not accept our forgiveness or respond to it. It was common in that day for the Pharisees to keep a record of offenses—-Jesus says that is not God’s way. Instead look at it this way. You are the servant, the slave in the kingdom. When we offer forgiveness to another we have a choice to respond in one of two ways:

  1. We can say pridefully that it was hard to do but it had to be done. OR
  2. We say as the servant in this story: ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’” In other words, we were obedient as that is the model of God’s forgiveness.  

Now Jesus uses the story of the 10 lepers to teach even more about this principle: we are not only to forgive but also when forgiven we are to thank the forgiver and healer of our soul. Only one leper returned to Jesus to thank him. He was saying to the disciples, you see this leper; that is true kingdom living. He was saying you are the blessed receivers but often fail to thank God for it. The other lepers went on their way healed but they did not return. That is how forgiveness often works. Some are accepting of our gift and others just take it for granted. Also, some choose to keep a record of those times they forgave. You have failed to see that you are to be like the servants “we have done our duty;” obedient to the teaching of Christ. Mat 6:14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.   Jesus says, no matter the response, it is our attitude and our obedience as servants in the kingdom. It is our duty as God’s servants.

To all of this the disciples respond with this statement: Increase our faith. Jesus said it doesn’t need to be increased; you already have the faith you need, you just need to exercise it, plant it and watch the results.

So the questions before us are many but here are a few: Where are you holding an unforgiving spirit within? Where are you judging without mercy? Where are you like the 9 lepers who have failed to thank God for His forgiveness of your sin?

Unconditional Forgiveness

ImageHow do you handle overwhelming and profound sadness? How do you respond when another responds to you with not with words that edify but words that are like swords? Are we a confronter or do we love from a distance? Do we step aside or do we confront? Do we forgive or do we withhold that gift? We can learn much about how this affects but better yet how to handle these situations from Paul’s responses to the church in Corinth where he had personally experienced this firsthand However, in light of eternity he has chosen not for us to know the person nor the situation but only the ramifications and the cure.

There will be times when others offend and we are the recipients of that offense. As hard as it is, we have the choice of what to do in those situations. We can forgive and restore that relationship or we can withhold it. We can learn from Paul what steps to take and why. Paul essentially is telling the church at Corinth that although a person has offended him he has forgiven him. Thus they are to follow in his footsteps and also forgive.

Forgiveness seems to be one of the hardest steps we are called to take. Why is that? Is it pride? Is it because we want the offender to feel the pain we are feeling? We often reject taking this step and in fact we feed on the reasons why we don’t have to. Beloved this only leads to a root of bitterness. But Paul uses the word “charizomai” which means to freely forgive as Christ has forgiven you. To not take this step is not only is sinful but childish. Paul reminded us in 1Cor 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” There is a principle we can employ here: Christian love includes both discipline but also forgiveness.

What is the consequence of withholding forgiveness? First and foremost Mat 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins. Secondly, a lack of forgiveness leads to a root of bitterness. Thirdly, we open the door to the work of the enemy. Beware lest we allow the enemy who roams about seeking whom he can devour an open door to divide and conquer the Body of Christ. “Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.” [M. Henry]

We are left with some questions: What weak point is Satan seeking to exploit in our life? Where is he seeking to gain a foothold? Are we wise or ignorant of the schemes of the enemy? Are we employing forgiveness to those who have offended us whether they seek it or not? Forgiveness truly is the balm that heals a wound.