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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

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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If our love for another is contingent upon what they first do for us, then we have a vocabulary problem.

You see, we’re not showing “love” to the person.

Instead, we’re making a deal with the person.

You do for me and then I will do for you.”

This attitude shows love alright, but it is egocentric.

It is a contract.

God calls us to have covenant love.

He wants us to be committed to loving others because it is the right thing to do, regardless of how we are treated.

If the person reciprocates, that’s a wonderful blessing.

But if the person doesn’t reciprocate to the desired extent, we are still blessed by knowing that we are obeying God’s command to love as He loves.

Check out this little bit of love language from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“We love each other because He loved us first.” (I John 4:19)

God loved us before we loved Him.

Amazingly, He loves us even if we don’t love Him.

What He did — and does — for us is what we’re to do for the people in our lives.

Particularly those closest to us.

Yes, some people are sometimes hard to love.

But we are called to show kindness, patience, forgiveness, generosity, acceptance and then keep repeating these things over and over and over again with our spouses, our children, our siblings, our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors and our church members.

Sometimes it’s not easy.

But do you think it’s always easy for God to love us?

Let’s love first.

It’s what God does.

It’s what the godly do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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When you were a teen and visited the homes of your friends, you could typically tell right away if the family members there respected each other and treated one another with kindness.

And if you sensed that relationships were not cherished but instead taken for granted, you probably didn’t want to return.

Who wants to stay in a home where people don’t do all they can to protect one another emotionally?

I Corinthians 13 tells us the “love always protects.”

If somebody trashes me in my family — whether biological or workplace or team or church — do I really want to be there?

I encourage you to be the kind of family member God expects you to be — caring, encouraging, protective.

This is what I need to do for others, as well.

Here’s what Paul wrote regarding the importance of this attitude when it comes to building strong congregations:

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)

We all know of congregations that could accomplish more for the Kingdom in their communities if a greater sense of unity — of humility and protection — permeated every heart in the flock. Perhaps this describes your congregation.

Please, be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Make every effort to be humble, gentle, patient, forgiving and surrendering your opinions/preferences to the greater cause of shared purpose and accessed power from God.

It’s what loving faith families do.

It’s what you and I are to remember the next time the Enemy’s whisper calls us to either turn away from a Christian brother or sister or, even worse, turn against them.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Apostle Paul gave me a good reminder this morning.

“My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (I Corinthians 4:4)

Sometimes we listen to the voice of warning that speaks to our consciences — the voice of the Holy Spirit — and we stop before crossing from temptation into sin.

Sometimes, sadly, we ignore that voice after concluding that the warning doesn’t apply to us because of some exclusion we’ve concocted.

Hello, sin.

But our guilty conscience seems dead asleep.

We don’t feel guilty.

Yet we are.

King David found out the hard way that a conscience can become blinded by selfishness and do no good to protect the soul from racing off a cliff into sin.

Thank God that God didn’t give up on David and sent the prophet Nathan to help restore the catatonic conscience of the king.

The fact is that we can’t trust our eternal status to how we’re feeling in our consciences.

We’ve instead got to trust the Spirit to convict us of our sins as we measure our lives against the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

We’ve got to stay in the Word and in prayer so that we retain sensitivity to God’s voice.

Yes, we’ll always be able to find others whose sins appear worse than ours, people whom we believe are more deserving of punishment by God rather than ourselves.

But we’ll never live up to the perfect example of Christ and that’s why we’ll always need God’s grace.

Let’s let our consciences be our guide without letting them become our god.

We are to listen to our consciences but only as we are certain that they are listening to the Lord.

As always, I love you
Martin

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None of us need reminding from others that we are imperfect.

We do a real good job of proving it to ourselves over and over again.

One of us struggles with cursing.

One of us struggles with greed.

Another struggles with porn.

And yet another keeps falling into the cesspool of gossiping.

The list goes on for life after life after life.

Your life.

My life.

Many Christians don’t like this roller coaster of sin and forgiveness, sin and forgiveness, sin and forgiveness.

But it’s that path we’re on until we’re walking the streets of gold.

You’d think that after we’ve been forgiven countless times for the same sin we seem bungee-strapped to, we’d reach the point of simply stopping that particular behavior.

But we fail again.

And again.

Against the backdrop of this pathetic pattern, we can find hope from the words of the Apostle Paul.

He knew exactly what you and I face with our “stumbling block” sins with which Satan so easily entangles us.

Read carefully his words recorded in Romans 7:21-25 —

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul struggled with recurring sin.

We struggle with recurring sin.

Paul escaped the sentence of eternal death resulting from that sin. He did so by accepting Christ as Savior.

Please escape the same penalty. Please make sure you’ve accepted Christ as Savior.

You’ll still fall. But you’ll have the peace of knowing that that day is coming when you’ll fall no more because you’ve been lifted up forever.

As always, I love you
Martin

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