Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Isaiah 12-15; Romans 12

Romans 12 is one of those portions of scripture that I often find myself in a love/hate relationship with. It contains such great encouragement! But it also contains such difficult instructions and directions.

In verse one, we’re reminded to live in light of what Jesus did for us on the cross. How do we do that? By living surrendered to God in body, mind, and spirit. This is how we find freedom, and this is how we can discover the will of God in our lives. Ultimately, when we live surrendered, we learn to see through God’s eyes:

First, we can see ourselves through God’s eyes, and that causes us to live in humility. It causes us to live our gifts without comparing our gifts. It causes us to serve others without worrying what they will do in return.

And then we can see how this humility causes us to see our brothers and sisters in Christ through God’s eyes. It allows us to recognize that there can be diversity in unity. It causes us to value our differences, our unique personalities, and various gifts that God created us with. It allows us to be generous and welcoming. It allows us to treasure others and treat them in such a way to make them feel treasured.  It allows us to love with an enduring and sacrificial love.

Finally, it allows us to see outsiders and enemies through God’s eyes. It moves us to forgive when we’ve been hurt. It gives us the ability to meet others halfway, to extend mercy, to seek harmony, and be generous even when people attempt to take advantage of us or mistreat us. It causes us to seek peace – to chase after it, and to make every effort to have it, even with the people who constantly provoke us. And it’s what allows us to overcome their evil with good – the goodness that can only come from God’s grace as we live surrendered to His will.

The “Romans 12 Christian” is one I long to be, but I must confess, I fail more often than I succeed.

Instead of seeing myself accurately, I often get puffed up in my skills and attribute them o myself instead of seeing them as gifts from God to be used for His glory. I can easily fall into the trap of comparing myself to others to justify my own shortcomings. And I struggle greatly to serve others if I don’t think I’ll get anything out of it.

Instead of seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ accurately, I often find myself impatient with them, feeling frustrated with the differences in everything from gifts and talents, to personality and communication styles. I struggle to devote myself to others and to be generous and sacrificial, instead focusing on how I wish they’d be more like me.

And I especially struggle with those who are outsiders or enemies. I don’t like choosing forgiveness. I’d much rather nurse the hurt into a grudge that demands justice. I’d much rather focus on my rights. I’d much rather focus on their failures. And I’d much rather justify my sinful behavior as a result of their provocation. But God calls me to forgive as I’ve been forgiven – “In view of God’s mercy.”

And so, in view of God’s mercy, I will choose humility in how I see myself and others.

In view of God’s mercy, I will value the differences between believers.

In view of God’s mercy, I will extend forgiveness when it’s undeserved.

In view of God’s mercy, I will seek peace and pursue it.

In view of God’s mercy, I will make every effort to love as I’ve been loved.

In view of God’s mercy, I will live surrendered.

 

Father, in Jesus’ name, thank you for the mercy you showed me at the cross. Thank you for offering your one and only Son to take my place on the cross and to rise again, defeating death, so that I could live with You. Help me to live in the light of that mercy. Help me never to forget it or take it for granted. Rather, let it move me to surrender. Let it move me to love as I’ve been loved. And let me learn to overcome evil with good by letting Your love flow through me. Amen.

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1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13&14; Matthew 22

“Abijam began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  he reigned in Jerusalem three years.  His mother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been.  But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem.  For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hitite.  Asa began his rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years.  His grandmother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.  Although the pagan sinners were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.” 1 Kings 15:9-14 NLT

This passage has me thinking about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and family lines.   Abijam’s and Asa’s mother and grandmother are mentioned by name.  As well as who their grandmother was. What was the purpose of them being mentioned?  Was it to show their influence?  That they were not overlooked?  I wonder how many prayers they had prayed for their family?  Even when sin entered David’s life, God’s goodness prevailed.  He saw David’s heart and kept his covenant with him.  David must have been bursting with pride over Asa’s devotion to the Lord.  This is fresh in my thoughts after visiting my dad in the hospital a couple days ago.  Watching my oldest son pray for his grandfather.  A legacy of faith being passed down through generations.

Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars.  The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.  So Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.  Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord your God, for we trust in you alone.  It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”  So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.”  2 Chronicles 14:7, 10-12 NLT

Asa was victorious because he sought the Lord.  He didn’t rely on his own strength. He remained faithful to the Lord, when I’m sure it would have been easier to give up.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment under the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you hear me.  That you see me.  Forgive me for when I want to follow my own way.  Help me to love others like you love me.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

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2 Samuel 13-14; 2 Corinthians 4; Psalm 51

This week, I tapped into a podcast of interviews with adults who shared an event in their lives that had a lasting effect upon them. They painted vivid pictures with their words, and the interviewer followed up with questions to the now adult speakers. They were only two people in this whole world, each marked by a memory from childhood. I wondered perhaps all of us have stories that have had such an effect upon our lives.

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her (2 Samuel 13:14-15, NLT).

***

So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister (2 Samuel 13:20b-22, NLT).

Sin separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from each other. In motion, it destroys. Amnon’s sin and violence led to his sister’s desolation, a brother’s thirst for revenge/justice and murder, and an estrangement in a lineage. Sin’s reach is vast–don’t ever be fooled.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him (2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT).”

Psalm 51 was written after David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you (Psalm 51:1-15, NLT).

Oh, that Amnon would have repented.

I look long on the image of spilled water in 2 Samuel 14:14. Thank you, God: Redeemer, Father, Healer. You devise a way to bring us back to you. Sin’s reach is vast, but You are greater. God, I hand you my memory, knowing You to be the Good Father, full of mercy, unfailing love, compassion. Bring healing to all the broken places.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 50; Exodus 1; Luke 16; Psalm 8

Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. (Gen 50:1) NIV

God had promised Jacob this was what was going to happen. As He assured Jacob he should not be afraid to go to Egypt, God told him Joseph himself would be the one to close his eyes after his death (Gen 46:4). I can imagine Joseph’s tears came from a place so many of us have felt—being cheated of enough time with a loved one. Losing someone we love to death. There was never a doubt in Joseph’s mind that he was loved by his father. Years of separation had not changed that. Now he was gone.

The first separation was not of his doing, it was forced upon Joseph. At that time, he had no idea if he would ever see his father again. Yet, after so many years, here he was blessed to be reunited with his father when he least expected it. Jacob got to see his grandsons grow and speak a blessing over them as was the custom. God orchestrated the grand reunion of father and son. He restored a family—or so Joseph thought.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (Gen 50:15-17) NIV

 They had just come back from burying their father—as a family. I think Joseph wept because he was deeply hurt by their words. His brothers did not know him at all. They feared him. Did they not know how much he loved them, that he had forgiven them? They were still living in the place of guilt for their actions. There was still distance between them even though they were all together again.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

Here again, Joseph’s dream was being played out before him (Gen 37:7-9). His brothers were bowing down before him. This time, however, his response was different. As a young man, he saw himself “lording” over his brothers. Now, he was humble and he gave credit to the Lord!

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

I am so glad the story of Joseph is in the Bible. It shows me such an example of God’s ability to rebuild and restore relationships. It shows me forgiveness is possible. In the natural, one would think as Joseph’s brothers thought—surely he is going to pay us back for what we did. But God had done such a restoration of Joseph’s heart that he had love and compassion for his brothers. A heart like that can be put in charge of saving a nation from starvation. A heart changed by God!

Lord, I thank you for the work you do in us when we surrender to you! Your supernatural power allows us to do what we could never do in the natural. Forgiveness is never easy. There are wounds only your holy salve can heal. I know there is still bitterness inside of me and I release it to you. Let me say as Joseph did “God intended it for good”. With cleansing tears, I surrender. In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Genesis 24-26; Luke 7; Psalm 6

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 ESV

When I was a child, prayer was the easiest thing ever. It just made sense. If something is wrong, if you need something, if you’re feeling lonely, just pray. But the older I grew, the more I understood what was going on around me and the more the world began to affect my perspective. Faith became harder. As an adult, it’s so much “easier” to take matters into my own hands – to have faith in myself more than faith in God – and therefore, to act more like Esau than Eleizer; to act more like an outsider than an insider.

I can’t help but notice a consistent contrast in today’s readings – how, in Genesis 24, Eleizer showed great faith in asking God to provide the right woman for him to bring back to his master. He was specific in his prayer, and showed determination to wait. But in chapter 25, we see Esau’s impulsive nature and unwillingness to wait when he traded his birthright for a simple bowl of food.

Eleizer was a servant; an outsider. But Esau was part of the family, the oldest son, the one who should have had the most faith in God and was in the best position to see and experience God at work in his life. And yet Eleizer is the one who actually got to experience God, while Esau showed that he despised the opportunity God had given him.

Fast forward to Luke 7, and again we see amazing faith from an unlikely source – the Roman officer who believed all Jesus needed to do was say the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus marveled at this – not even the Jews had such faith!

The greatest examples of faith came from the outsiders, not the insiders. The “insiders,” the ones who should have immediately believed because they had the promise, instead doubted and questioned and tried to take matters into their own hands.

Luke 7:36-50 shows the result of living out our faith in Christ versus living by faith in ourselves. When we struggle with control, when we try to figure things out for ourselves, and when we live based on what we can see, it’s easy to become bitter – to become, ultimately, a Pharisee. In my life, the quickest way for me to tell when things have gotten off-track is by my attitude toward others. When I become frustrated, impatient, and skeptical of others, it’s a sign that I’m living with a self-centered mindset instead of a Christ-centered mindset.

But when I am attempting to live my life based on faith in Christ, in his power, ability,and promises, my attitudes and actions change dramatically. Rather than a Pharisee, I begin to act more like the woman whose sins had been forgiven. Out of the overflow of her grateful heart, she sacrificed something very precious. Because Jesus was worth it.

My goal is to be more like the woman who poured out what she had at Jesus’ feet; I want to be one who loves much because she’s been forgiven much. I want to be one who trusts what God can do more than what I can do. I want to believe that it just takes a word, and Jesus can make it happen – and I want that belief to move me to wait expectantly.

Father, thank you for loving me enough to show me when I’ve gotten off-track and become self-consumed and trusting in what I can do instead of what you can do. Open my eyes anew to who you are and what you have done for me, and help me to live out of the overflow of a grateful heart. Help me to love much; help me to pray in faith; and help me to wait in hope and confidence that you are at work even when I can’t initially see it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Bethany (drgnfly1010)

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Ezra 1-2; John 21

The scene is set. Peter and Jesus are sitting around an early morning charcoal fire… Just like the charcoal fire the night Peter denied Jesus three times…

Jesus then asks Peter if he loves Him and asks Him three times.. Read below:

15 Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.” 17 Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 [ESV])

Jesus always looks past our sin to what we can do for Him in His kingdom. Peter had done the unthinkable. He had denied Jesus three times. Even when Jesus takes Peter aside and tells him He was praying for him Jesus looks past the denial. We read the following:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31&32 [ESV])

One of the greatest sins ever committed and Jesus doesn’t demand an apology. He let’s Peter know He knows in the passage of this morning, but His call to ministry was the focus of Jesus here.

If Peter hadn’t turned back, or had blown off the sin Jesus wouldn’t have had the early morning breakfast meeting with him. Jesus knows our hearts probably more than our words.

Some of us have struggled with sin and we have asked and asked and asked for forgiveness. The first time would have been enough, but even still Jesus knows your heart. He knows you are sorry and when He does He gives you a new mission to accomplish in His Kingdom work.

We have all had to ask for forgiveness but has dwelt there. Jesus wants us to look forward to the new assignment He has for us. Satan is the one that keeps us at the sorry point putting the lie into our heads that we are no longer any good to God. God is waiting to give you your next assignment in His Kingdom. What will it be for you?

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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalms 79; James 5

“Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah.  He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.  Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”  Jeremiah 37:1-3 NLT

King Zedekiah’s heart wasn’t right before the Lord.  He didn’t want to listen to what Jeremiah said.  But, he wanted his prayers answered.  How many times have I come before the Lord with the wrong heart? Feeling far from him.  Knowing that I needed to ask for forgiveness.  What a contrast to David’s humble plea…

“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name.  Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.” Psalms 79:9 NLT

Sometimes “Help” is the only word I can utter.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.  Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” James 5:13-15 NLT 

I am amazed at all the prayers God has answered in my life.  I look through old photos and pause to reflect on his goodness.  A verse comes to mind, “Who am I Lord, that you have brought me and my family this far?” (2 Sam 7:18).  But, still at times I forget all he has done. I get tired in the waiting.

“Elijah was human as we are, and yet he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:17&18

If it would have been three and a half days, I’m sure Elijah would have been grateful .  But, I can imagine how elated he was after three and a half years.  Did he ever want to give up hope? Maybe. But, he didn’t give up praying. What an example his faith is to me.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  How you care about my every need.  Thank you for your promises and for the hope I have in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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