Tag Archives: Forgiveness

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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Isaiah 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Corinthians 16

I’d never been in the presence of such a warrior. We were talking about life and hard issues, and I shared something that had hurt me deeply that I was still trying to resolve in my mind and heart. She offered to pray for me, and when she did, I felt small and humbled by the things she took to the throne on my behalf–boldly, powerfully. In fact, I almost felt afraid at her great, impassioned petition for vengeance.

Please, God, rescue me!
    Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
May those who try to kill me
    be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
    be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame,
    for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you
    be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
    repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
    O Lord, do not delay. (Psalm 70, NLT)

 

God is so mighty. And her mighty prayer showed me who I’m dealing with. This was many years ago, and I don’t remember the exact words she said (mostly because I was drop-jawed stunned as she said them), but I will never forget that evening. Weeks later I got word of some things that immediately brought this warrior to mind as her prayer was answered. I was awestruck. I couldn’t get my head around it. But that incident became grounds for great trust in God, his might and sovereignty. (As well as the very real power of prayer!) I learned over the years to trust him with the outcome of things that were so much bigger than I was. And I still do.

I read an article recently that left a long impression on me about forgiveness, “Forgiveness means we don’t ignore. We don’t excuse. But we do release the right of vengeance to God without pretending vengeance isn’t right” (True Woman, Haley Mullins, 9/4/18). God is just. He is judge. I take the wounds and hurts and offer them to him, to free my heart–because it is the wellspring of my life.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
    and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
    and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
    His fury will fall on his foes.
    He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
    in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
    driven by the breath of the Lord.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
    to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
    says the Lord.

21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 59:15-21, NLT)

When I’m taking a walk, I notice the size of the trees, trees that seem so big when I stand beside them, but look so small compared to the backdrop of the heavens–and I am so much smaller, a young child is smaller still.

Oh, Lord, how is it you notice me? I am so grateful. That of everything under your watch, you see me and you care for my heart. You value truth and what is right, and it is worth fighting for. You give me hope. What a precious gift.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 1-3; Psalms 9; Matthew 22

I“Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?” Isaiah 2:22 NLT

Who am I trusting?

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalms 9:9&10 NLT

Am I only loving when it is convenient and easy? Because sometimes it’s hard.  If I am trusting in God’s perfect love for me, than I am free to reach out to others without expecting anything in return.  The simple tune of “Jesus Loves Me” fills my mind.  “For the Bible tells me so…” I am convicted to fill my mind with Scripture. Because I know there is an enemy working against me. But, Jesus shows me how to love. And he already has the victory.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in 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 demand of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT

I  let these sentences by Henri Noreen sink in…

“The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show the same results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.  In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.  It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.” ( In the Name of Jesus)

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.  I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name.” Psalms 9:1-2 NLT

Dear Father, help me to love others like you do.  And to remember how much I have been forgiven, so I can forgive.  Give me a heart like yours. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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