Archives for posts with tag: forgiveness

advice3 Words of Advice from Mark 11 and 12

  1. Have faith in God. Let it crescendo and accelerate through your soul until the mountains move at the sound of your voice and the obstacles against you flee at your approach.
  2. Forgive. Forgive until you experience the live stream of mercy from heaven enveloping you and bearing you up through every circumstance and challenge.
  3. Don’t play the fool. Don’t draw back from God as if God has bad breath when He begins to breathe the Holy Spirit upon you. Don’t beat up what God is trying to nurture. Don’t kill what God is busy raising up to life.  Don’t criticize what God is encouraging. Don’t reject or despise the marvelous and mighty work of God.

When we play the fool, God’s way always begins in us as if it is insignificant. It won’t grow large until our faith does.

How will you allow your faith to grow, today?  How will you deal with people when you remember you have something against them?  How will you avoid playing the fool?

hopeI’ve been asked to conduct a funeral today. It is for a classmate of my baby girl who is 25. I grieve at the very thought of having to do this. A life that was far too short. Yet, I do not grieve without hope.

What is hope? My favorite definition is ‘hope is faith with TBA written over it’. We know it’s certain. We know for sure what we hope for is going to happen, we just don’t know the when. There is no date on the calendar, no hour in our appointment book that is marked for its completion.

Today, though, I will give thanks for a hope realized, even though I give thanks with mixed emotions. I rest my hope on what the Apostle Peter says, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desire.” (2 Peter 1 – 4)

I have mixed emotions because Peter goes on to say we can add to this work of God’s promise and confirm our calling and become fruitful in our experience of all God chooses for us. Or, we can find ourselves acting as if these promises are hidden from us and forget the freedom God gave to us when God gave us forgiveness.

Regardless of how we can become, God’s Word assures us (2 Peter 2) that God knows how to deliver us even when we’ve been put in bondage to distress and the depravity of others. Again, I remind you as I encourage myself: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10: 23)

 

slatewipedcleanThe new and living way that Jesus provides through his bodily and atoning sacrifice is a gift beyond compare. I am grieved that so many spurn this gift, take this gift for granted, or still look for better alternatives when the best and singular choice for life has already been offered. One of the reasons Jesus stands above all other ways, truths, and choices for life is Jesus’ sacrifice is based on heavenly promises.

“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’.  Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more’.  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Hebrews 10: 15 – 18)

God is not playing, “Let’s Make a Deal” with us. There is nothing behind the curtain. The curtain has been pulled aside and the offer of Jesus’ bodily and atoning sacrifice is set before us. The question is, do you want the laws of God written on your heart and in your mind? Do you want your sins to be forgiven? If you say, “Yes”, then let God’s heavenly promise be fulfilled in your life.

Say “Yes, I believe God’s heavenly promise has been activated through the bodily and atoning sacrifice of Jesus. I believe his bodily resurrection validates his claim of being the Promised One who will take away my sins. I will turn to Jesus and follow Him.”

nailsandcrownIf you desire to worship the Lord you must know this basic fact: a new and living way has been consecrated and opened for us by the bodily sacrifice of Jesus.

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.  It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased’.”

“Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God’. First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’—though they were offered in accordance with the law.  Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second.  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10: 1 – 14)

The old way of sacrifice has been replaced. Striving and struggling for the acceptance of God is not necessary. The acceptance of God has been purchased for us through the precious blood of Jesus Christ and is ours by grace through faith.

This week, I’ll lay out the reasons why we can all take part in this new and living way. Read through Hebrews 10 and get ready to share the confidence and excitement of this new and living way for yourself!

 

isaiah-53The very first Sunday at my present church appointment I stood in the pulpit and asked everyone to forgive me. I still remember the quizzical looks, the sudden drawback in the pew wondering what had I done, the raised eyebrows, and even the few quiet gasps. But, as I explained that everyone has expectations of a new pastor and I was sure at some point in time, however near or far, however intentional or not, I would disappoint those expectations.

I was a human being, Pastor Obvious and was bound to do that in some small or hopefully not significant way. So, I was asking for forgiveness ahead of time so that when it happened each person in the church would have already decided to forgive me and we would move forward together.

As I sad yesterday, forgiveness is part of God’s executive plan of sharing His grace with us. and how we share grace with others. Abstaining from forgiveness leaves us bound to our anger, our malice, our hurts, and our own blind bias. One of the first things that’s affected by malnourishment is our eyes, our vision. Having an unwillingness to forgive means we are starving our own soul.

Abstaining from forgiveness is our sign that our vision fails to distinguish between what is real and what is ideal. It would be ideal if everybody did the right thing but we know all of us fail to say or do the right thing sometime.

Let’s get real. Being entitled to abstain from forgiveness means you want an entitlement to be treated perfectly. It’s not going to happen. It can’t happen even if everyone tried because you’re not perfect. Sometimes, your take on what people are doing  will be wrong.

Believe me, Pastor Paranoid… I mean, Pastor Obvious, I know this happens. So, go ahead today and decide, “If anyone does me wrong, I forgive them.  If anyone does my friends wrong, I forgive them. If anyone does my country wrong, I forgive them. If anyone tries to talk to me about my short-tempered attitude, I forgive them… and if given a moment to calm and compose myself, we can talk about things and move forward together.”

It was obvious. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times,’ And Peter went outside and wept bitterly. The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.” (Luke 22: 61 – 65)

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth”, (Isaiah 53: 7) except to say… I AM the Son of God… and I forgive. (Luke 22: 66 – 71, 23: 24)

captainobviousThere is a design to everything God creates and sustains. Jesus reveals that God gives two great commandments. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 29 – 31)

These commands imply two obvious calls upon our lives from God: the call to be saved and the call to be empowered by the Spirit to serve.

These calls imply two obvious actions we need to take to appropriate the gifts and blessings of God and each other. These are repentance towards God and forgiveness towards our neighbor. Jesus says this is obvious and how we continue to receive deliverance from the evil one.

This is how the design functions. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 14 – 15)

I share this post today because I am concerned for the soul of many who forgive actions by their neighbor if they like their neighbor. But, have the neighbor they don’t like do the same thing and well, they’re still mad at them. Jesus says, don’t be the hypocrite. The design doesn’t function under those conditions. Of course, that’s obvious, too.

graceFirst and foremost, the purpose of grace is to gift you with repentance. Without repentance, we have no seed or source for our faith. As one who is aligned with God in repentance, the Apostle Peter said, “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5: 29 – 32)

Without repentance we will obey man rather than God. The word ‘obey’ is built on a compound word in the Greek language which means to have trust in the rule of someone. In this case, Peter and the other apostles replied they had trust or confidence in the rule of God rather than ruling themselves or being ruled by the meant-to-be persuasive and strict orders they had received from the Sanhedrin. Without the gift of repentance, that obedience would have been manipulated and directed by the superior threats and consequences of the council. Just as today, without repentance, we will do almost anything or keep ourselves completely quiet so we can stay in the good ‘graces’ of our culture.

What is forgiveness without repentance? It is an admission of guilt where no guilt exists. What is our witness without repentance? Is it a charade? Is it being asked to suffer for what we do not believe?

Repentance aligns us with reality. In this case, repentance aligns Peter and the other apostles to the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

What is the reality with which you are aligned? Is it a reality that causes you to trust yourself or does it cause you to trust God? Is it a reality where what you think is what’s most important or have you exchanged your will for the truth that is in Christ Jesus? Is it a reality where you blame others for what is wrong in your world or have you and the Holy Spirit taken responsibility for everything?  Is it a reality where you do what you have to do or a reality where you are led by the Spirit? Is your reality marked by the need that something’s gotta give or is it marked by the fact, God already gave?

Is your life marked by the purpose of Grace?

P.S.

As you read Acts 6 today, notice the “double silence” that was at work in Stephen’s life. He wasn’t full of himself, he was “known to be full of the Spirit” (Acts 6: 3) and when opposition arose against him, “they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” (Acts 6: 10)

Acts 6: 8 describes this quality of the “double silence” when it says that Stephen was “a man full of God’s grace and power”. Today, may we be so marked by the purpose of grace that we are described as Stephen is.