Tag Archives: Forgiveness

The Fear That Is Wisdom

Disaster and destruction follows disaster and destruction in the world we live in, hurricane upon hurricane, earthquake upon earthquake, and wildfire upon wildfire. The news also carries stories of the tensions between nations and the dangers of nuclear proliferation or attack. We wonder when the terrorists will strike again. We wonder when the war in Syria will finally end.  Anxiety and fear are rampant.

Jesus teaches His disciples what signs will signal the end times and His return. (See Matthew 24)  He tells of unequaled distress on earth, such distress that all would die, if those days were not shortened. He tells of the sun being darkened and the moon not giving its light. He warns of a day during that historic, monumental distress, a day that no one but His father knows. On that day, He will come on the clouds in the sky with great glory and all those who have believed in Him will be caught up with Him to escape the horrors of earth.  “…That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Does this teaching inspire fear?  It well ought.

We learn in Psalm 111:10 that: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Let fear send you running to God to learn how to escape His just judgment on mankind. John Newton’s ageless hymn, Amazing Grace, says, “Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace my fears relieved.”

God is Love.  Love is warning us, and Love is reminding us that He has made a way of escape.  All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  All of us are unclean and powerless before the Mighty God of the Universe.  See a man upon a cross.  His name is Jesus, the Son of God, the Lamb of God.  His shed blood can wash away your sin and make you clean.  Believe in Him.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;  the end of fear is love.  The apostle John tells us in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

When Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ, washes us clean, we are relieved of fear.  For those of us who have believed in that love, we listen to the news and watch the times with a growing sense that our Lord’s return is closer than when we first believed.  We are comforted knowing the day is coming when there will be no more sorrow and no more tears.  The One who gave Himself for us will dry away our final tears as He welcomes us home to be with Him forever.

Be afraid; it’s right and appropriate. But don’t stop at fear; go on to Love.  Run to Him. Now. Don’t slow down and don’t stop until you are safe in His arms.

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The Root Of Repentance

I have long pondered how one who says he believes in Jesus can also say he does not know how to forgive.   For the Lord Jesus taught that his Father in Heaven would not forgive men their sins unless those men forgave other men their sins toward them.

Recently I read the fictional trilogy, Flight From Stonewycke, by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.  In the story an old man named Elijah spoke to a younger man, ” …all people, Dermott, must humbly come to the point of being able to forgive others the wrongs they have done them, forgive themselves for their own sin, and even forgive God for what we perceive as the cruel hand of fate working against us….Elijah paused and looked intently at the his young friend.  It is this forgiveness which lies at the root of repentance and opens the way for the life He would give us.”

What grabbed me most was the well articulated thought that forgiveness is the root of the repentance that leads to the gift of LIFE EVERLASTING.

Of what must we repent?  Certainly,  our rights, including our right to demand justice, our right to revenge, our right to withhold mercy and forgiveness.  Giving these rights up is easier when we realize our desperate need for God’s forgiveness, when we realize, that no matter how good we are, we still fall short of God’s Glory, his standard of holiness.

Repentance leads to death, our lives are nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ.  We give up own lives with all our rights, in order that He might rise again in us with his new life.  My life for his.  Your life for his.

In his book, The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee says, “We think of the Christian life as a ‘changed life’ but it is not that.  What God offers us is an ‘exchanged life’, a ‘substituted life’, and Christ is our Substitute within.”

Christ forgives.   If Christ lives in me,  then I forgive.   For the life I live is no longer my own but his.  Praise God.

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Easter Morning and A Sand Dollar

SandDollarOf all the mornings of each year, Easter is my favorite.  This Easter morning was especially glorious.  My husband and I attended a service with our son at a lake shore.  The sun rising over the lake was beautiful.  We faced the sun, and I closed my eyes, reveling in the sun’s warmth on my face and the sound of birds singing around us.

In those quiet moments with my eyes closed and my heart worshipping the Risen Savior, I became aware of some light in my lower right vision.  The light formed a star shape.  Then I noticed four white spokes radiating from the star.  Insight dawned – the light on the dark screen of my mind had produced the image of a Sand Dollar.

There is a legend that says this shell tells the story of the birth and death of Jesus.   There are four nails holes and a fifth hole made by the Roman’s spear to remind us He is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed that we might be forgiven and have everlasting life.  On one side of the shell there is an Easter lily with a star at it’s center, reminding us of the Star of Bethlehem that announced His birth.  On the other side of the shell, there is a Christmas poinsettia that also reminds us of His birthday. Inside the shell are five white doves, reminding us of the Holy Spirit, who is given by Jesus to each believer to empower him or her to share this life changing good news.

Risen, Glorious Lord Jesus, thank You for the beautiful ways You reveal the truth to us and tell us Your Story, including the lovely  Sand Dollar.

 

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New Beginnings

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This blog is dedicated to The One I love.  The One who makes all things new.  The Author of springtime, new mornings, and new beginnings.

Long ago that Author resurrected my marriage one Easter morning. ( You can read my story on the book page of this website.)   Before He could renew my relationship with my husband, a stone needed to be rolled away.  It was a large, heavy stone, a boulder really.  That massive blockage was resentment, and the force essential to removing it was forgiveness.

I approach this Easter with another relationship that is at risk for death without forgiveness.  Although I have apologized and asked to be forgiven, the person I hurt has not extended forgiveness.

Now I struggle with regret which is made worse by my desire to be perfect, my delusion that if I just try hard enough, if I do all the right things, I can be perfect.  I can endlessly obsess over what I did.  Why did I do that?  How could I have been so stupid?  If only I hadn’t done that.  If only I could live that day over.  If only, if only, if only, and the regret  strangles my joy.

I have always found it easier to forgive others than to forgive myself.   Perhaps the ability to accept God’s forgiveness, to embrace it, and to start over is dependent on my forgiving myself, the way God forgives me.

I think that before I can grieve the loss of this relationship and move forward,  I am going to have to forgive myself and get over being imperfect.

Lately, The One who makes all things new, has been reminding me of some great advice from the apostle Paul.  “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining forward toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”                   (Philippians 3: 13 & 14)

Lord Jesus, thank you for forgiving me.  Please give me grace to forgive myself, to leave the past with its regrets behind, and to strain forward for what lies ahead.  Let me let you love me and let me let you restore me. Amen

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Navigating The Waters To Heaven

 

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“Sailors have always had a special need for light; the hazards of navigation are formidable….The lighthouse provided early warning of submerged rocks, reefs, and sandbars; sheer cliffs; rip tides; shallows in which ships could run aground; and other costal hazards.” *

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)   As our light, he gave many warnings to help us navigate the dangers on our journey from this world to the next.

Perhaps of all the dangers and warnings, he gives, I find the most sobering one to be this:  “But if you do not forgive men their sins, the Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:15)   To be forgiven is to be forgiving.  A forgiving spirit is  the test of one’s salvation – the fruit and the work that identifies us as belonging to Father God, the evidence that our faith is alive and well.  No wonder the Apostle Paul told us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Lord Jesus Christ, Light of the World, shed your light into my heart and reveal any bays or inlets of harbored bitterness, any refusals to forgive.  Give me a heart to forgive as you have forgiven me – for the safety of my own soul and for your Glory.  Amen

*The Ultimate Book of Lighthouses by Samuel Willard Crompton and Michael J. Rhein

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How To Forgive

In the first volume of his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew regarding chapter 6:12, 14-15, William Barclay wrote,  “”Of all petitions of the Lord’s Prayer this is the most frightening, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  The literal meaning is: “Forgive our sins in proportion as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”  Matthew goes on in verses 14 and 15 to make that quite clear by showing us that Jesus says in the plainest possible language that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us…To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition of forgiveness which only the power of Christ can enable us to fulfill.””

In 2 Peter 1:3, the apostle wrote,  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Perhaps I did wisely counsel the young woman I wrote of yesterday.   I pray that God will match her desire to obey with his power to forgive,  his power at work within her.  I pray that, like the other woman I wrote of yesterday, she will experience healing that enables her to lay hold of God’s power to forgive.

I wonder if the healing we need, before we are able to forgive others, is really an answer to the question: “Where was God?”  Where was He when we were hurt or injured or abused.   Matt Maher sings, You Were On The Cross.  That is his answer to this crucial question.  God the Son, The Lamb of God was on the cross dying for my sins and the sins of the one who sinned against me.  We are all sinners in need of salvation.  The soul who sins, dies.  In that context, although there are sins that are more horrible than other sins, the playing field at the foot of the cross is level.

How do we forgive?  How can we describe the work of God’s spirit within us – the movement of our souls toward him and his kingdom.   We stand at the foot of the cross and weep over our own sin – the sin that nailed our Savior to that tree.  As we gaze at that Love, we are changed.  He changes us.   We even extend mercy to  those we believed we would never be able to forgive.

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