Tag Archive | Forgiveness

Bible time for Justin and Jacob

“I know the plans I have for you.”  GOD  

There is no one His equal.  He is love.  His compassion knows no boundary.  He has no boundaries known to man.  Except one…your will. 

He will not allow anyone to put Him in a box of any kind.  He will break out of it every time.

He was, He is and He will be involved in the lives of all mankind because He is the creator of all mankind.

All that He is, His power, His love, His majesty, causes anyone who is in His presence to come away filled with awe and wonder.  In His presence all fall on their face.  Pride crumbles.

He loves mankind so much that in His plan, knowing the past, present and future, He sent His Son, His own unique Son, into the world of men as a man.  He came as a man among men.  He displayed God to man.  He came to redeem, to buy back what had been given away by Adam, the initial created by God man, who made the decision not to trust God’s word.

God is love.  Love gives.

Jesus taught His disciples that God is a father, “Our Father who is in Heaven”.  In this dispensation we are the beneficiaries of the last will and testament of God’s son.  He is the mediator of this New Testament.  He came to Earth to showcase who God is. 

God is a Savior.  God is a healer.  God is a deliverer.  God is a provider.  God is a protector.

God is a God of order.  He is not causal or careless.  He is purposeful and intentional.  He is not haphazard.

Corrie ten Boom, author of the book, “The Hiding Place”, tells the story of God’s love for those who abused and murdered her family and the Jewish people.  The Word of God says, “What does it profit if you love those who love you, love your enemies and do good and pray for those who use you?”  Corrie had to forgive the guard, who before receiving Christ as his own personal Savior, had abused her sister Betsey.  She could only do so with God’s love.

Can you pray blessing on one who has “done you wrong”?  Pride can’t, pride won’t.    Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the one you hate, the one who offended you, the one who stole from you…dies.  Flesh wants a pound of flesh. 

“Tit for tat, butter for fat, you steal my dog I’ll steal your cat.”

You are only a human being, you are not God.  Apart from His appropriated power you cannot forgive from your heart.  And only truly seeing your own “self” in the light of His love and then seeing your offender through the lens of God’s love, only then are you able to forgive.

“With God all things are possible.  Nothing is too hard for God.”  With you?  Not so much.

Most of your life is ahead of you.  The path in front of me is much shorter.  I am advising you to make the most of each day.  Choose to follow the path least travelled.  “Broad is the way that leads to destruction.”  Many people are walking there.  The surest way to reach your desired destination is to stay on the narrow path, keep focused on the goal.  God is calling you to walk with Jesus, led by His Holy Spirit.  If you do so, you will fulfill your destiny

Religion will keep you satisfied, just a normal, nominal Christian.  Keep drinking that Kool-aid and you will leave this world having made your mark on the world.  “He was a good person.”, they will say.  “Only God is good.”,  Jesus said.  

A Christian is a Christ One.  Christ is not Jesus second name.  Christ means the sent one.  Jesus is the one sent.  His name in Hebrew, the language of the people when He was on the Earth, means Savior.  Jesus Christ…sent one to save, that was who He was.  It was love that sent Jesus. 

Who He is now is King.  A king has a kingdom.  When you accepted Jesus as your Savior you were brought into the Kingdom of God.  You are now looked after, taken care of by King Jesus.  You have to learn the ways of The Kingdom.  The Word of God will teach you the way.

Someone once asked thus question.  “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  This is something you should consider.

A true Christian will touch the world around him with the love of God, he will impact the life of every one whose life he touches. You have influence. How do you choose to use it? 

Learn to love.   May what motivates you be the love of God.

My prayer is that when you stand before God, the Righteous Judge, there will be more than enough evidence written in the book of your life to hear these words… “Well done good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your master.”  Amen!

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Love or Hate? You Choose.

The shop was unusually quiet.  But, what began as a quiet day rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare of gigantic proportions.

My wife and I run a lovely little shop where we sell china and dishware for the home.  We are getting up in age and have thought about retirement, but we so enjoy the people who come through our doors that it has not been an easy decision.

All of that changed today.

Rena and I were getting ready to open in the morning.  We were admiring the new sets of Christmas plates that had been put on display,  There were beautiful and unusual figurines of angels that matched the sets of dishes, and Rena had carefully and beautifully arranged them with the dishes.  The Christmas colored cloth they sat on enhanced their beauty.  Rena and I loved Christmas because the family would all gather at our home, it was a little bit of Heaven on earth.

Our granddaughter Emily was home from college and was helping us in the store; we were delighted to have her with us.

Emily was the middle child of three that our son John and his wife Carina had blessed our family with.  She was to graduate the following summer, and was following her heart into the medical field.  She hoped to be a pediatrician.  Her love for children abounded and they followed her like the Pied Piper.

We opened promptly at 10:00.  As I said, it was unusually quiet; we even commented on it.  In retrospect, it was eerily quiet, almost like holding your breath because you knew something was not normal.

Around 11:00 we got a phone call.  The caller asked if it was possible to see a sample of the new china that we had received for the holiday.  Normally, we did not do that, but as the caller was known to us, we condescended to send Emily over with a piece from each set.  She asked if she could meet one of her friends for lunch, saying she would be back by 1:00.

It was around 1:30 when the world came crashing down upon us.  Emily’s body was found in an  alley by the driver of the local disposal company. She had been gang-raped and left to bleed to death.

This morning I woke up with a dream.  A dream about dishes.  Think with me about dishes for just a moment.  There are many uses.  We use dishes to eat our food on, this would certainly be the most common use.  But, there are also dishes that are strictly decorative.  

I have several depression glass dishes in yellow.  They give me much pleasure.  I think of the Sun and, I think of the Son, when I look at them.  My cabinet has a light in it and when it is on the dishes sparkle and shine.

Some dishes are functional, used for every day, some dishes we use only when we have company over and others bring delight to the eye because of their beauty. 

In the Bible Paul talks about dishes that are used for every day and those that are just for company use.  This is to show us that not everyone is the same, there are giftings and there are callings that set us apart, like the china in my story above. 

King David said, I have been young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.  Sometimes we want to cry out, “Why did you allow this to happen God, I don’t understand!  It looks like you abandoned me.”  I remind us that God does not lie.  Whatever He said is Truth, because Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the life and the truth.”. 

People are like dishes.  Some have a great capacity, the hold a lot and can feed a lot of people.  Other dishes are delicate, pretty and a delight to be around.  In my dream I saw some pink dishes that were made for every day use, like Emily in my story.  She wanted to be a doctor and to serve children.   But, I saw that the dishes had been thrown down and were chipped and broken.

I thought about those who perpetrate their hate upon women in the way that Emily was murdered.  There are some that rape and kill in the name of their god.  Can we not contrast the one true God who declares that He is love with this god who kills, steals and destroys?  Who then is the real God?  Who would you want to serve?

The Bible tells us that the children of God are to love as He loves and in so doing we will be children of our Heavenly Father.  Love does no harm to another.  Love is patient and kind, it is not envious or jealous, it is not selfish of self-seeking, it is not touchy, fretful, or resentful, it believes the best of everyone, it’s hope never fails.  Paul finishes his letter to the Corinthians regarding love by saying that love never fails.

Can we love like that?  Can you?  No, not on our own, not in our humanity.  But, with and through the Holy Spirit indwelling us, yes, we can.

Our family was devastated, as you can imagine, by what had been done to Emily.  She was so bright, so beautiful, so loving. She had a wonderful future.  Her desire was to finish med school and set up her practice in our small town where she could serve the community that she loved so much.  She looked forward to the time when she would marry and have children of her own.

We were angry, we grieved; the wound to our collective soul seemed too hard to bear. We doubted, we were filled with unbelief, disbelief….so many questions.  “God, where were you, why didn’t you stop this?  You said you are Love, this makes no sense.  Help!”

It seemed that this nightmare had no end.  The investigation moved forward and then the trial.  As the story unfolded, an eyewitness, someone who lived in an apartment above one of the buildings saw what was happening and called the police.  Unfortunately, they did not arrive in time.  It came out in court that a group of young men were sitting around outside an ethnic grocery store near where Emily had parked her car.  She just happened to be walking past them, to go to the restaurant to meet her friend for lunch.

I have no doubt that she smiled at them, maybe even said, “Hi.”  That’s how she was.  In her mind God loved everyone, no matter their culture or religion.

The eyewitness said that one of the men grabbed her by the hair, covering her mouth with his hand, more than likely so she would not scream, he dragged her into the alley where the men took turns raping her, after they were finished, they knelt down as if in prayer.

Emily was left to die. When the police arrived on the scene, no one was around.  The eyewitness was too traumatized by what she saw to be of any further help.  She was paralyzed with fear.  Eventually, she was convinced to testify in court, but as soon as the trial was over she moved away.

Our family drew together, we cried, we prayed and sought God for His help.  We came to understand that sometimes there are things that are mysteries, things we cannot understand this side of Heaven.  We know where Emily is, she waits for us to come there to be with her.  She does not hurt anymore.  I also believe that she has no memories of what she went through, how she died here on earth.

We came to understand that Jesus death was not unlike Emily’s death.  He too was innocent, He too was wounded unto death, His blood pouring out of His bruised and broken body, even as Emily’s was.  Some would say, “Small comfort that!”.  Maybe for some, but not for us.

The breakthrough for us came when we began to understand the lost condition of the young men who had done this to Emily.  They had been conditioned to believe a lie.  They really did not know any better.  They had been deceived by the enemy himself.  We then could have compassion upon them and begin the process of forgiving them.

In time, we were able to move on with our lives.  Rena and I sold our store to someone from town who loved it as much as we did.  We enjoyed our days tending a little garden we had, visiting with friends and family and preparing our hearts for the time when we would “go home”.

It is written in the Word of God, “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11:26 

As we forgive and learn to lean the whole of our care upon Him, we can walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God.  Maturity in the Kingdom of God is to be like Jesus.  How do you do that?  Focus, study, that is how.  As you focus upon Jesus and study the Word of God and Jesus life upon the earth you will be changed into His likeness.  This is the will of our Father.

Hard times are ahead.  Hide yourself in God.  He is our Rock, our Refuge, our Hiding Place. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace in the midst of trouble, trial, terror, and trembling…this is my prayer in the name of Jesus.  Amen!

Joy

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Forgiveness

“Forgive as I have forgiven you.”  Luke 11:4

That is a command not a suggestion.

“For if you do not forgive your brother then neither can my Heavenly Father forgive you.”  Matthew 8:14-15

There are conditions.

Who ever said that being a Christian was a riparian delight or a walk in the park?  Depending on where you live, it can get you murdered.

But, let’s be honest, American Christianity has not been tested and I fear if it was, it would not pass muster, not at this point anyway.

There are standards, some would call them laws, and this issue of forgiveness is one of those.  It is serious!

We can gloss over it, as many do, with all kinds of reasons why it is impossible to keep this command, such as, “I can never forgive him, you don’t know what he did to me.”  No, well then, why should God forgive you for what you have done to Him?  Is not the greater sin your telling God you won’t do what He asks of you.  Disobedience, my friend, is outright rebellion, in case you didn’t know.

We can say that God does not really mean that He won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive our brother, because He  loves us and He accepts us in Jesus just as we are.  That is a half-truth.  Half-truths are no different from lies.  A little bit of dog poop in a brownie still makes it inedible.

I can just hear someone say that I am being legalistic.  Really?  Have a glance at the Proverbs of Solomon and see how often he uses point and counter-point to show how God looks at things.  There is the Law and there is the Gospel.  There is the Old Testament and there is the New Testament.  These are Covenants, made by God.  He takes them pretty serious.  I think He means what He says.

Offense comes to every one.  There are no exceptions, we live in a fallen world.  Again, choices are made.  We either decide we will forgive or we decide we won’t.  No decision is a no decision, simple!  Is it easy to forgive?  Absolutely not!  It is probably one of the hardest things to do.  “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.”  Proverbs 18:19

So, my friends, the challenge today is this:  Have a look at your heart before the Lord.  Are you offended by someone, by something said or something someone has done?  You better deal with it, because the repercussions are great.

God is a righteous judge.  This is how fine it gets:  “But I say unto you, (Jesus speaking) that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 18: 23-35 Jesus tells the story of a steward who worked for a King.  He owed the King a huge sum and could not pay.  So the king commanded that he be sold, with all that he had, until he could pay off the debt.  He begged for his life and the king had compassion on him and forgave him.  However, the servant found a fellow-servant who owed him a small amount and told him to pay up or else.  The poor fellow begged for patience and he would pay, but he would not hear of it and had the fellow thrown into prison.  This really irritated the other servants and they complained to the King, who when he heard addressed this unjust steward with these words:  “You are a wicked servant, I forgave you all your debt, could you not have compassion and pity upon your fellow-servant as I had upon you.”  And, then He handed him over to the tormentors, “till he should pay all that was due unto him.”

Here is the kicker:  Verse 35  “So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

I guess that pretty much sums it up for me.  I have no choice.  Either I forgive the one who offends me or I won’t be forgiven.  And, if I won’t forgive the tormentors come, guess who they are…  I choose to forgive, for my own sake.  I like freedom and peace….don’t need tormentors, no thanks.  How about you?

Reflectively His,

Joy