Tag Archives: Forgiveness

1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

A great responsibility comes with choice. And I wonder how many people consider the cumulative or immediate consequences of a choice–from decisions over meals, activity, deadlines, to the influence of entertainment, relationships, culture.

Today, I read of Samuel plainly speaking, warning of the results of a choice:

10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home. (1 Samuel 8:10-22, NLT, emphasis added)

Even though Samuel warned what it meant to have a king rule over them, the people wanted to be like everyone else; and they wanted one man to judge them and lead them. Those were the defining arguing points they made, over everything else they’d perhaps forfeit. And God said to let them have it.

I think long on freedom and choice, grateful and reverent of it.

As I read through Stephen’s recounting of history, two things stand out: man’s choice and God’s presence. Stephen reminds of God’s leading and man’s response, sometimes obedient and sometimes not.

51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! 52 Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53 You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage

57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:51-54, 57-58, NLT, emphasis added)

I wonder, Lord, does choice always come down to choosing or rejecting you? From what I eat for lunch, what I listen to, how I handle conflict, what I say between friends–where do I put you in all of this, even these seeming inconsequential things? And what of mercy, compassion, forgiveness?

Father God, thank you for choice and freedom. These are perhaps the most powerful permissions you have given mankind. Help me to be aware of my heart in the choices I make. I want to choose you. I want to follow you. Stephen’s last words were for mercy for his attackers. Lord, help me to keep your kingdom as my focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 4-7; Hebrews 3

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.” (Leviticus 4:1, NLT)

I read through the Lord’s instructions to Moses in Leviticus 4-7. They are thorough. They are lengthy. So when I get to Hebrews 3 and the mention of Moses in comparison to Jesus, the connection is fresh.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. (Hebrews 3:106, NLT)

The scriptures go further to warn against a hardening of the heart against God.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
    when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
    even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
    They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:7-13, NLT)

It caused me to think on things that would harden my heart in any event–and can I keep a hardening heart in one area of my life from hardening against God?

I’m so thankful for Jesus, who took my sins, washed me clean with his sacrifice. I can lay them down before him, the intentional and unintentional and tangled mess, and he still calls me loved. He still calls me daughter. He still calls me forgiven. He is my high priest and my hope.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 8; 3 John 1; Habakkuk 3; Luke 22

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34) NIV

And he did just that. When pushed by the people in the crowd, Peter feared for his life. As bold as he usually was, in this instance he was weak. He denied Jesus. Before it happened, Jesus knew about it. He prayed for Peter knowing full well the weight he would feel for denying his friend, his teacher, his Messiah. Peter had walked side by side with Jesus for three years. He was there for the transfiguration, he walked on water, he sat at his feet. He experienced first-hand the power of Jesus as he witnessed people’s lives being changed both physically and spiritually. I can well imagine Peter’s feelings afterwards—berating himself for failing when pushed to the brink, wondering how in the world he did that. It was no surprise to Jesus; he knew it would happen. He also knew Peter would be able to strengthen his brothers in their journey of faith. It was not the end of the story.

This is where grace enters Peters life. The love of Jesus is shown through the forgiveness of our sins. He showed Peter such love and compassion in light of what he did. Jesus did not hold it against him. (“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103:12)

I lived for so long under condemnation for the choices I made in the past. There were people who hurt me, people I hurt, decisions I wish I could undo, and so much shame. The weight was unbearable and almost took me out. Sin has such a ripple affect and touches so many as it spreads. Then I met Jesus and through his love l understood a new way to live. God in His glory forgave me! It was almost as if he spoke those words to me: “Cindy, Cindy, I have prayed that your faith will not fail.” There are no words that can describe the moment I realized that weight of sin had been lifted. Grace is powerful!

Through these verses, I also came to understand God’s sovereign will. Satan has to ask God’s permission to “sift” us. It’s taken a lot of years of relationship with God to know that when he’s allowed trials into my life there is purpose in it. I don’t like it, and I struggle with accepting it, but I knew he has a greater good.

In Peter’s case, we later see him go forward and spread the gospel to the Gentiles. He was one of the early leaders. What a testimony he must have had to share of his time spent with Jesus. Peter could share his highs and his lows. His victories and his failings. And assure others, through it all, he was loved exactly the same—never more and never less.  

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. (3 John 1:11a) NIV

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us what is good by the life of Jesus. May the wonder of Him, God in human form, never be taken for granted. You came humbly to this earth. You poured out your love on a hurting world. You gave us your only Son who willingly paid the penalty for our sins so we can be with you forever. A baby in a manger; a Savior on a cross. Forgiveness. Grace. A love given freely to those who believe. I shake my head in wonder of it all for understanding is beyond my ability.  I praise you for your awesome plan. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalm 62, 63

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Sam 11:1) NLT

I have often wondered why David decided to stay behind. From what we know of David, he was a mighty warrior, leading the troops of Israel against their enemies. Yet this particular time he stayed back. Whatever the reason, it was a decision that changed his life. All it took was a stroll on the roof, his eyes seeing something they shouldn’t, and his thoughts going where they shouldn’t. He wanted what he wanted even though it was something that didn’t belong to him. When we sin, we tend to think no one will ever know or we’ll never get caught. Except sin has a way of revealing itself—which it did when Bathsheba became pregnant. And so the web of lies and deceit begins.  

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Sam 11:16-27)

A sin cannot be hidden from God. There are always repercussions for the choices we make. In David’s case, his family was riddled with division (“the sword will never depart from your house”). There are ripple effects to sin and innocent people can get hurt. I know this to be true in my own family. Choices were made and it started a string of events that left great pain in its wake. Trust was broken, relationships were shattered, and great division remained where once there was unity. It can impact generations.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ez 18:30-32)

Repentance! How cleansing it is for the soul. God has given us grace. Even though sin has its price, we can repent and draw close to God once more. He loves us and he will help us change. He can restore broken relationships, he can mend a shattered heart, and with his help we can learn to trust again. There is hope instead of despair.  I know this to be true as well. I have witnessed the work of the Lord in restoring a family that had been torn apart. His hand was all over the chain of events and details that had to be in place so at just the right time hearts were ready to forgive. To this day I am still in awe of his great work. (Isaiah 43:19- “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”).

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Cor 4:8-9) NLT

David repented of his sin. He was restored to right relationship with God. Yet the consequences were set in motion by his actions. Yes, David and Bathsheba had Solomon, and the LORD loved him (12:24). But there were many family battles to come.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Ps 63:1-5) NIV

Lord, how thankful I am you have provided a way back to relationship with you. You taught me to repent and get beyond the shame of my own actions. You taught me how to give others grace and forgiveness for sins committed against me. I have seen you change the hardest of hearts. You are the lifter of my head. I have seen your goodness and how it can change a life—starting with my own! Your love is better than life! I will praise you as long as I live! In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Leviticus 2,3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

Whenever I read John 21, there is something about it that fills me with joy.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

This reminds me of the first time Jesus told Peter to throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was when he called him to be fishers of men. Peter surely remembered it. I wonder if Peter was going back to that time BEFORE he denied Jesus; if he needed to be in that place where he first met Jesus. My bible is precious to me.  It is filled with dates and words and memories of the times I’ve met with Jesus.  When I need to be encouraged, that’s where I go—back to the place I met Jesus.

I thought a lot about Peter and what might have been going through his head in light of how I struggle with my sin—when I know I’ve done something that really must have hurt God.  I’ve gone the gamut from being so upset with myself and couldn’t believe I did it.  I was humbled and sad and ashamed of myself for being tempted to do something I never thought I’d do. I can imagine Peter could have felt like that as well.  In repentance, I’ve gone before the Lord and confessed my sin asking to be forgiven.  But I went feeling shame and remorse. That’s why the fact Peter didn’t hesitate to run to Jesus, to jump out of the boat and swim to shore, fills me with joy.  He didn’t hold back in shame; he immediately went to Jesus. The love Peter had for Jesus was evident.  He had no doubt Jesus felt the same about him. That is a lesson for me as well.  I have no need to hold back in shame but immediately run to Jesus in expectation of forgiveness. Later in this same chapter we see total restoration as Jesus gives him his assignment to continue what Jesus started.  He even prepares him for how he will die. We know the rest of the story and how the disciples went willingly to spread the gospel and how they became martyr’s in the name of Jesus even knowing what might happen.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Jesus reconciled Peter.  Jesus reconciled Paul.  Jesus reconciled me.

Lord, I thank you for stories and an imagination where I can picture myself as the main character.  I can picture myself as Peter, I can imagine how I might feel, and I can receive the same gift you gave to him—forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me when I’ve sinned, thank you for accepting me no matter what, and thank you for always being there just like you stood on the shore for the disciples to see. I love you so much!  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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