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Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ Category

I love this message found in Proverbs 24:16 —

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.”

Our being godly is not reflected by being flawless, but instead by being faithful.

And our being faithful is reflected by pressing forward in serving God even when our failures and the forces of darkness press against us.

We all trip by committing overt sins or sometimes we subtly sin by not trusting God to help us keep doing the right things when wrong things come against us.

The godly among us recognize that we’ve fallen short of God’s glory at such times and that we’re to seek God’s forgiveness so that He’ll put us back on our feet spiritually and emotionally.

It’s a wonderful thing to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration to being used by Him at home or work or school.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” (Isaiah 40:2)

God is in the lifting business, dear friend. Let’s call out to Him in faith whenever we’ve fallen.

It’s what the godly do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s such a brief line but it is incredibly potent in meaning.

For anyone who has just been restored to an important relationship because of another’s forgiveness, this verse fragment will hold special meaning.

“…what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10)

The context was Jacob’s return to his homeland after 20 years in what is now Iraq. He had fled there earlier out of fear that his brother Esau would kill him because of various deceptive and cheating behaviors.

Returning as an older and somewhat wiser man, Jacob still had fear that Esau might take revenge for the dirty deeds done to him a generation earlier.

You’ll want to read of this account by clicking here.

Despite the fear, Jacob headed home anyway. Previous chapters in Genesis recorded why Jacob believed he couldn’t stay in the land of his wives’ family.

Jacob knew when he fled his homeland two decades earlier that he had done wrong.

And now as he awaited the inevitable meeting with Esau, he was hoping that retribution and carnage would not be the outcome.

As you read the passage in the link above, you’ll see just how deep-rooted Jacob’s fears were.

But when the meeting actually occurred, there was no hatred, no shaking fists, no waving swords.

Instead, there was unmistakable forgiveness.

Jacob sensed that what he had received was not the fruit of human nature but instead the fruit of God’s Spirit overflowing through Esau’s face.

When Jacob saw a forgiving face with a friendly smile, he perceived it as the work of God in his brother’s heart.

Wow.

Perhaps you have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the work of God in your heart as you choose to genuinely forgive someone who has done harm to you.

If you’ll offer a smiling face to him or her as you seek to restore a relationship, embracing rather than attacking, you’ll bring relief to that person’s soul.

And they’ll know that what you’ve done is a reflection of God’s influence, not human nature.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter — there is perhaps no better way to portray faith than to forgive those who have harmed you.

Please, let people see the face of God in your life.

Forgive.

As always, I love you
Martin

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He was lied about.

He was lied to.

He was left behind.

Yet, Mephibosheth didn’t take the sourpuss route.

He didn’t take the resentment route when, in the world’s eyes, he had every right to do so.

Mephibosheth simply rejoiced at the opportunity to be in the presence of his king and didn’t care that he would take a big financial hit because of the crooked behavior of another.

What mattered most to him was fellowship with the king and conflict with others over “stuff” would not be allowed to get in the way.

It’s a fascinating story to read about Mephibosheth and the history of his relationship with King David. I encourage you to do an Internet search of his name and read the accounts so that you’ll know more about his life.

This morning, though, I simply want to encourage you to join me in appreciating his passion for his king.

There is a powerful lesson for each of us in how we should prioritize the place in our lives of our King, Jesus Christ.

In 2 Samuel 19, there is an account of King David’s return to Israel after his son Absalom’s short-term revolt had driven David out of the nation.

There is much more of a back story to the passage below but you’ll get the main idea from Mephibosheth’s words:

Now Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, came down from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem.

“Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?” the king asked him.

“Mephibosheth replied, ‘My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, ‘Saddle my donkey so I can go with the king.’ For as you know I am crippled. Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that my lord the king is like an angel of God, so do what you think is best. All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me by allowing me to eat at your own table! What more can I ask?”

“You’ve said enough,” David replied. “I’ve decided that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you.”

“Give him all of it,” Mephibosheth said. “I am content just to have you safely back again, my lord the king!” (2 Samuel; 19:24-30)

Wow. Mephibosheth had every reason in the book to resent Ziba and press for severe punishment because of the greedy deception.

Not only had Ziba selfishly placed Mephibosheth’s life at risk during the earlier revolt, the servant had abandoned him and lied to the king.

The moment was ripe for payback time when David found out the truth.

Mephibosheth didn’t care about the wealth of the land holdings, though.

He didn’t want to go down a stressful road of arguing and wrangling with Ziba and the king over all the wrongs done to him and how he had a right to the land and why didn’t David punish the scoundrel Ziba, etc., etc., etc.

Mephibosheth just wanted fellowship with the king.

When somebody rips us off and lies about it to others — whether over money or over status or over a relationship — do we allow resentment to overwhelm our desire for a healthy relationship with Christ?

Does the refusal to forgive create a wall between us and the Forgiving Messiah?

Jesus gave up the infinite glory and riches of heaven just so He could bring us safely to heaven to be with His Father forever.

Let’s reject the temptation to let our peace with Christ to be disrupted by fighting over money or past dirty deeds against us.

If we have Jesus, we have all we really need.

Matthew 6:33 promises so.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If I’m breathing, sooner or later I’ll want to be eating.

It’s the way of the flesh.

We’re organisms and as the ad jingle used to say, “Ya gotta eat.”

It’s not just eating food that we need until we die.

We also need forgiveness.

You see, our appetite is not only for food but also for sin.

Too many times when tempted, we act as if we’ve forgotten where the “No!” word is in our vocabularly.

We’ve told ourselves before that we were NOT going to repeat a particular sin and, for a time, we kept our word.

But that dreaded “Oops!” moment returns when we realize we’ve again dropped our guard and bitten the forbidden fruit of whatever.

Everybody has their stumbling blocks. You have yours and I have mine.

It stinks.

Not just for us but for God, too, who wants better for us.

This is why it’s vital that we keep a well-worn path to the throne of God, not just for worship but also to plea for forgiveness.

We all sin. We all need grace. And we all will until we die.

That means the spiritual discipline of repentance and rededication is to be a daily pattern for living rather than a random choice when we determine if we’ve messed up enough to feel unworthy.

Let’s follow the principle taught in Leviticus 6:13 where the Israelite priests were told by God to NEVER let the fire go out on the bronze altar of sacrifice. You see, God told the priests that guilt offerings are to be placed on that fire. And since with millions of Israelities being present, there was always guilt in the camp that needed forgiveness.

Because God’s desire is for restoration of the soul, the fire had to keep burning in order to complete the guilt offering sacrifices ordained by God.

If the priests chose to let the fire die, it would be because they stopped believing that sins were occurring or they stopped believing that sins needed forgiveness.

The day eventually came when priests did neglect the altar fire and Israel suffered terribly.

We don’t have bronze altars at churches now, but our need for forgiveness is just as real today.

Let’s remember that our going to God to gain forgiveness for our sins should be even more important to us than is going to the fridge to gain food for our stomachs.

Let’s never let the hunger for forgiveness fade.

For unlike food that can sustain us until we die, forgiveness can carry us through this life into the next.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s a beautiful word picture in today’s One-Year Bible reading that fills me with anticipation for an incredible blessing.

It’s so simple, yet so potent.

It sure reveals something about the heart of God.

What makes this text even more interesting and useful is that it is spoken within the context of sibling reconciliation.

You’ll recall that the brothers Jacob and Esau had a terribly dysfunctional relationship during their young adult years.

Jacob was a schemer and Esau was a flesh-focused slug who sometimes didn’t think things through as he should have before acting.

Making a very long story very short, Jacob schemed to gain a couple of major prerogatives that belonged to Esau. Ultimately, Jacob had to flee for his life.

For a couple of decades, God stirred Jacob’s heart to go back to the land of his birth and take his new family and abundance of wealth with him.

Jacob went but with the uncertainty of how it would turn out when seeing the brother that he exploited long ago.

Fearful of wrath, Jacob nonetheless obeyed the leading of the Lord.

The day came that the brothers finally met. But instead of the retribution that Jacob had prepared himself to expect, he was greeted with something else — a great, big smile focused on reconciliation.

Esau didn’t want to destroy the brother who had cheated him.

Instead, Esau embraced him and the two wept.

Rather than retribution, there was reconciliation.

The big smile on Esau’s face said it all in Jacob’s view.

“What a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10)

This is a very telling statement that shows just how important forgiveness and reconciliation are in any human relationship.

Jacob, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is telling us one of the most effective ways that we can communicate the nature of God.

You see, when we reconcile with another after somebody forgives, it puts a smile on God’s face. And the smiles that our peace-making provides to us become powerful testimonies as to why faith is so important.

Listen, friends. Seek to repair all your relationships. Share friendly smiles with others. Particularly those who have disappointed or wounded you.

If you are the one who needs to seek forgiveness, get to it so that friendly smiles can return to your face and the face of the one you offended.

For as you and I do this, others will be seeing the face of God and we’ll stay on the path that prepares us for the day we’ll actually see the face of God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It happened again.

I’m talking about an inner flood of awe and appreciation for the Lord because of a single verse in the Bible.

I’ve been a Christian for 44 years and a pastor since 1987 and yet, I still get the starry-eyed goosebumps sometimes when I read verses like Psalm 130:3-4 —

“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you”

I am a sinner. Even though it occurs less frequently than in years past, I still fall short of God’s expectations sometimes. And I need forgiveness.

If God weren’t willing to forgive me, I couldn’t have confidence of standing eternally in His presence when my life is over. I’d only stand before Him for the moment of my judgment and then I’d be off to everlasting destruction in hell.

But because I’ve accepted His offer of forgiveness by means of accepting His Son Jesus as Lord, I’m content to serve God with reverence and joy.

That’s why He saved me — to serve Him. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in Ephesians 2:10.

Grasp within your mind and heart the depth of God’s grace and you’ll grip more firmly the hand of God who desperately wants you to walk with Him forever.

As always, I love you
Martin

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While reading from Leviticus over the past few days, I’ve been reminded of why I’m so glad to be living under the New Covenant rather than the Old.

Extensive, detailed instructions are given for gaining forgiveness from God — and spiritual cleansing because of certain physical afflictions. Elaborate sacrificial and hygenic rituals were required, including those that had logical basis in the prevention of further physical or spiritual corruption.

It was typically a time-intensive process to gain forgiveness for sin or for approval of renewed fellowship with the community if skin diseases were present or if one’s house was tainted by mold.

My appreciation for the cross and the all-sufficient blood of Jesus is always increased when I read of Old Testament sacrificial requirements.

I’m so glad that God tells me in I John 1:9 that our faithful and just God will forgive our sins if our confession of wrongdoing is sincere.

I’m so glad that Ephesians 2:8 tells me that I am saved by faith in Christ’s cleansing blood through grace rather than by works.

I’m so glad that Romans 8:1 tells me that as long as I choose to remain “in Christ” with the loyalty of my heart, my name will remain in His Book of Life.

You know, church would be a whole lot different on Sunday morning if we had to have a stockyard to keep all the animals in while the members waited to have them sacrificed for sin.

It’s SO much easier for us now because it was SO much harder for Jesus then.

Let’s make sure that we never take Christ’s sacrifice for granted.

Not only did He make the Way to salvation through His sacrifice, He also removed once and for all the need for the blood of bulls and goats and lambs and birds.

Life is easier with Jesus.

For us. And for a lot of bulls, goats, lambs and doves.

As always, I love you
Martin

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