Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

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

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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

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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

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We all encounter times when we’re not feeling joyful.

Or at least it seems that way.

But is joy really something that we “feel?”

Happiness is something that we feel. It is emotion-based.

But joy is not based on emotions.

It is based on reason.

It is based on evidence.

It is based on the future, while happiness is based on the present.

It is based on promises, not circumstances.

You see, the homeless and jobless person who finds a wallet with $20 cash is happy for the find because food will soon be in his or her stomach.

But joy for the next day and the days after that? That’s a tougher shopping list.

The Christian suffering a terrible physical injury and subsequent loss of work income isn’t swept up in emotional happiness but can be filled with joy in knowing that God will provide enough to keep living and has an unfathomably rich eternity waiting for him or her.

Whatever hassles you’re facing just now might be stealing your feelings of happiness.

But they can never seize your joy.

Joy can only be forfeited.

It is a gift that remains ours as long as our spiritual arms are wrapped around the One who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.

I’m talking about Jesus.

Here’s the passage that triggered these words this morning. I pray that they help you to live out this day with a greater sense of joy:

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

Because Jesus willingly suffered for us, we’re offered deliverance from the penalty we’re due because of our sins. No matter how tough life circumstances become, we’re still ahead of the game eternally.

And that’s a joy-producing thought.

As always, I love you

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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

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Repenting isn’t fun.

After all, who thinks apologizing to God is a happy time?

But everybody sins.

And that means that everybody should repent before God for doing what we shouldn’t have.

Hopefully, as we mature in faith, our repentance becomes less frequent because our sin becomes less frequent.

Like you, I’ve found that it’s much more pleasant to sin/repent much less often.

You have your list of recurring sins just as I have mine.

Thank God that He is gracious and leaves opportunity for us to repent our way toward restoration of intimacy with Him.

Let’s reject Satan’s lie that repentance is an unreasonable demand of a cloud-based control freak.

Let’s remember that Satan refused to repent and was condemned to eternal suffering as a result.

Acknowledging our failure and our need for restoration through God’s mercy and Christ’s blood is a pain but without it, we won’t experience the gain of peace with our Father who was previously pained by our choice to ignore Him.

Here’s what repeatedly repentant King Solomon wrote about repentance in Proverbs 14:9…

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.”

Peace with God is always awaiting us on the other side of repentance.

When you sin — and we all do — please run down the path of reconciliation.

God will always welcome and restore a repentant heart.

As always, I love you

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Pride is our enemy.

It blinds us to our weaknesses and binds us to approaching “train wrecks” in our lives.

Do you know anybody whose life and relationships improved because he or she became more prideful?

Humility is so much better.

We’ll help people more because being helpful is the right thing to do and it shows concern for others rather than only for ourselves.

We’ll forgive more because we don’t want others or ourselves to carry the heavy burdens of unfulfilled “payback.”

We’ll listen more because understanding others’ thoughts and feelings is more important to us than making sure that they “know” that we have the best answer in every situation.

Jesus was humble and it sure served Him well.

Here’s a teaching of His that should guide our steps:

“Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)

Putting others first in every situation is not a sign of weakness but instead a sign of strength.

Good parents make sure their kids eat first, that their kids are sleeping safely first, that their kids’ medical, clothing and educational needs are met before adult “toys” are purchased.

Good Christians make sure their church’s financial needs for ministry and missions are provided for first before other personal financial splurges are made.

Let’s take a step back of “self” and become the unselfish leaders for our circles of influence that God has saved us to be.

It’s the best way to get ahead in this world… and the next.

As always, I love you

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