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how do you forgive yourself

How do You Forgive Yourself?

How do you forgive yourself?

I was recently ministering at our Celebrate Recovery group and in the breakout group, the subject that was hitting home with everyone in the group was the question, “How do I forgive myself?”

That is a huge question.

The Bible clearly teaches absolute forgiveness of all of our sins. If you were to arrive before our Judge in Heaven, you might start begging for mercy. You might begin confessing all that still haunts you with guilt and remorse, even things that happened years ago. The Lord would listen then look into His records to see the volumes of books containing all of your sins. He would flip through page after page going through volume after volume. Then He would look up and say, “All of these pages are empty. Every volume is full of blank pages. It seems whatever used to be here has been erased. I have no record nor any memory of these things you have mentioned. Enter into the joy of My Kingdom forever.”

God is able to throw our sin into the sea of forgetfulness. The power of our mind is minuscule compared to the Lord. And we simply do not have the power to forget. We want to forget. We try to forget. We try to drown our memories in alcohol, inoculate them with illicit drugs, sweat them out with exercise, buy them off with money, but no matter what they do, the memories remain and so does the guilt.

 

What Does Guilt Do To Us

Guilt is the spirit of condemnation. It is the sentence that changes us from someone who had made a mistake to someone who is a mistake. A free man has mistakes in his past, but mistakes that linger recast us as condemned men with a record never to be expunged.

Guilt can be a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Some will crave the death penalty because the knowledge of what they have done and who they have hurt is too much to carry. When there is no hope for parole, prisoners accept and assume a new existence within the context of the prison wall. There is no hope to undo what has been done. Relationships are released. We discard even the relationships with those who want to love us to rescue them from the horror of talking through the glass of Hell’s hotel on Earth.

When there is no hope, when there is no vision for anything better, we are already dead and just waiting for the hearse. Having faith in Christ will not blot out the nightmares of what we have done. This is especially true if the people you have hurt are still in your life. Every time you see them, the memories may pop back up in your mind. If we hurt them again, though in a much less destructive way, they may bring up our old mistakes and this is hard and can embed our guilt deeper in our psyche.

 

How do you heal and forgive yourself?

Find Mature Christians to Confide In

Self-forgiveness is not possible on your own. We might think it is something we can do on our own. Scripture clearly teaches us that we need help and support from other believers. However, we don’t need just the support of anyone who is a Christian. Self-forgiveness is heavy spiritual warfare and we need strong, mature Christians who know how to reach Heaven when they pray.

We all need people that we can go to when we have messed up royally who will speak the truth to us in love, refuse to condemn us as a horrible person, and administer or remind us of God’s forgiveness that is bigger than anything we might have done. Self-forgiveness is a process, not a decision. We need these people that we can go back to and be reminded that we are forgiven by God. And we need their prayers empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to remove the hardness we have in our hearts for ourselves. Knowing we are forgiven is not enough. This truth must be written in our hearts. And we need solid, loving, graceful, non-judgmental believers to help this process. Like Ananias praying for the scales to fall off the eyes of Saul, the murderer of Christians so we need people to pray to remove the scales from our hearts so the Holy Spirit can tattoo His truth upon our hearts.

 

Remember You are Not God

God has declared you forgiven. He has died, shedding His own blood, to secure your forgiveness. When the sense of guilt is overwhelming us, our flesh, the sinful part of us is working to convince us that we are God. Our intellect knows we are not God, but there is an ongoing mutiny happening inside of us. We must recognize these feelings for what they are. This is the sinful nature, under the dominion of the law of sin and death sentencing us to life in the prison of our own guilt. But those who have accepted Christ have been set free from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit.

The law of the Spirit says that when we put our faith in Christ, we are no longer our sin. We may sin, but that is the old man in us. We are a new creation. So in every Christian heart, there is both the old man and the new creation. The old man operates in the spirit of the devil.
The devil, for a time, has been allowed to reign. He is referred to as the god of this age in the Bible. However, Scripture teaches us that even he knows that his days are limited. He is fully aware that he is a dead-man-walking. And this old man inside is a slave to this devil. He doesn’t want to suffer his fate alone. He is doing all he can to bring you with him.

The law of the Spirit of life has separated us from this old man. It is not you anymore. Instead, the Spirit is in the process of cutting away this old man so he has less and less control over you.

This is the judgment of God. You are set free. And when you let thoughts of guilt remain by running over your mistakes in your mind continuously, you are attempting to usurp God’s authority. If He is God, then what He says is true and when you feel something different, it is a lie from the pits of Hell.

 

Make a decision of faith

Ultimately, self-forgiveness is a decision of faith. To proclaim to ourselves that we have been forgiven and fight the feelings of shame and guilt is a decision. If you wait until those ugly feelings go away, you will enter Heaven still beaten down by your past. God will have removed the burden, but you keep picking it up again and again because of that old man in you.

 

A decision of faith precedes freedom from the feeling of guilt. To make a decision of faith is to force our words, our thoughts, and our behavior to move according to the forgiveness God has given. We must take captive our thoughts. The guilt will work to produce thoughts of self-condemnation. You will have thoughts telling you that you are no good, that you are a horrible person, or whatever, but God has given you the power to take captive your thoughts and change them according to the truth of God.

When those thoughts come to you, start proclaiming out loud that Jesus died for you and you have been forgiven. Fight those feelings and thoughts as if you were fighting a murderous rapist who has broken into your home. That old man will rape your mind and kill your soul. Fight! Fight! Fight!

 

Shout it from the Rooftops

It is important that you proclaim your own forgiveness. Surround yourself with other mature Christians who will shout it from the rooftops. You are forgiven!!!

The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. We eat the fruit of our own lips. The things you say when these feelings of guilt and shame rise up in you are so important. Your words more than anything will keep you enslaved to the enemy or usher in your freedom.
Scripture is so powerful here. Remember, Jesus used the Word of God to refute the devil in the desert. When we use the Scripture, we slam the door on these thoughts. Don’t just quote Scripture, but shout them into your own heart and mind. Shout them at every turn, on every hill, driving down the road, before you sleep, when you wake, in the face of more accusations. Shout them!

Jesus told the woman in Luke 7, “Your sins are forgiven.” 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Write out Scripture and put them everywhere. Don’t get embarrassed if people see your sticky notes. You are fighting for your freedom and it is a spiritual battle.

 

Love like you have never loved before

The Bible reminds us that love covers over a multitude of sin. Not only do we want to confess our sin to those we have hurt, but we want to resolve ourselves to love them like never before. The old man and the stupid devil will tell us they don’t want us to love them. Maybe they don’t so we don’t force ourselves. That wouldn’t be love anyway. But as much as they will let us, we love them as Christ has loved us.
I do not mean we try to earn their forgiveness. That’s impossible. Just like self-forgiveness is a choice so they must choose to forgive. You are not trying to earn it. Instead, by loving them with kindness and patience, working to prosper their life, you are loving Christ and honoring Him for the forgiveness He has already given you.

Keep in mind the power of love. Love today will eclipse the sin of yesterday. Stop beating yourself up and focus your mind on how you can love better. Improve your patience. Improve your kindness. Be joyful to be around instead of a grouch. Find ways to let them know they are valued by God and by you.

And should they bring up those things again, do not deny them. Do not dance around the issue. Confess them again. Don’t give excuses. Then, go to the Lord in prayer. Go to your support circle and ask for prayer. And in prayer and through worship, paint your soul with several coats of God’s forgiveness.

 

It is a process

Lastly, just understand it is a process. We want God to remove it forever. But one Biblical principle that is very difficult is God’s command to never forget who we were before we found Him. God doesn’t allow us to completely forget our past mistakes to keep us humble so that we never forget His grace and love that has poured out this forgiveness forever.

 

Live blessed and be a blessing!

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

 

 

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What Does God Think About Abortion

What Does God Think about Abortion?

We have heard from preachers and politicians telling us what God thinks about abortion, but what does God actually say in the Bible?  I want to share with you from Biblical principles the many-faceted angles of abortion and what God thinks about it.

Jeremiah 1:5
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” (NIV)

This is the word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Jeremiah. God knew Jeremiah before He was formed in the womb.  He knew him.  He was familiar with him.  He knew his name, his personality, his essence.  These words remind us that abortion is taking the life that already existed in the eternal realm that has been placed in the womb to become flesh on this Earth.  Nevertheless, what doesn’t exist cannot be known.  God knowing Jeremiah before the womb reminds us that conception in the womb is life.  It is known by God and for man to take this life is not acceptable to God.

We read how John the Baptist, still in the womb of Elizabeth, jumps for joy within her belly when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit her.  John and Jesus knew one another in transcendence before their physical bodies were fully formed.

So many Christian articles about abortion are simply statements of why abortion is wrong or a sin.  Anyone with faith in the Bible as the Word of God, along with the logic that nothing can be known that doesn’t exist, makes it clear that abortion is not godly.  Nevertheless, should the question of right or wrong be the focus of believers?  Should our focus be in the politics and polity of abortion laws?

 

 

Should I fight to make abortion illegal?

Not everyone considers abortion sinful.  The Bible clearly teaches us not to judge those outside the church.  If someone has no issue with abortion, it is not productive to argue the point with them.  Biblically, we know the laws of a nation can bring blessings or curses down upon that nation so working to make abortion illegal is a noble cause. Telling someone who has had an abortion that they have sinned against God or holding up signs that say “God hates abortion” doesn’t really convey love to those who may wonder if God can still love them after they’ve had an abortion.

The response of the church to abortion must be anchored in love then morality.  Many will disagree with me here, but Jesus’ morality is wrapped in transformation.  Jesus did not require the woman caught in adultery to confess her sin, renounce it, or even ask for forgiveness.  He prioritized mercy above morality.  It is not that He was not concerned with morality because His command to her was to go and sin no more.  He first gave mercy, then morality.  Isn’t this God’s way?  He died for us on the cross while we were yet sinners.  This love draws us to Him, makes us want to listen, to follow Him.  Then comes morality as He teaches us to be holy as He is holy for this is the way to abundant life.  Love followed by morality strengthens a person’s sense of being loved.  Morality before love makes the law of God more important than the child of God.  Jesus criticized people like this in Scripture telling them their actions were the same as putting a stone around someone’s neck and throwing them into the sea.

God’s compassion for us comes out of His understanding of the original sin that we often forget.  We don’t sin because we are bad people.  We sin because we were born with the condition of sinfulness.  If a baby is born with a defect that disallows them to walk, we are not angry with the baby.  We have compassion for their condition.  With sin, we forget it is a condition that we must be rescued or saved from.  Too often, our view of sin doesn’t span wide enough.  We act as if there is no condition causing sin, but the Bible clearly teaches there is a sinful nature.  All of Scripture is not about people no longer sinning as much as transforming them in the Spirit so they are set free from the law of sin and death, the sinful nature.  God breaks the chain of our slavery to sin.  Our greatest concern must be the condition that leads to sin more than the sin itself.

Political posturing to make abortion has great merit, but has the church become so consumed with this that it has forgotten our first calling from the Lord is to minister to individual people as they suffer from the pain of sin.  We can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We can be active politically in the abortion arena.  Our first priority must be loving those whose lives have been hurt from the effects of abortion.  Changing the law is important for God’s protection over our nation, but it will not save a single soul.  To be active politically but absent in personal ministry is an earthly response to a spiritual issue.

 

How can abortion be sinful if God commanded the death of the unborn?

For many, the struggle is found in the Christian message of love from a God who commanded the death of many people including pregnant women and children.  The average Christian has lost sight of God’s command for Israel was to defeat the city of Jericho and kill every man, woman, child, and animal.  Surely, in a city this large, there would have been many pregnant women.  How can a God who protects the sanctity of life destroy the unborn?  Another difficult passage is the Old Testament ceremony regarding the suspected infidelity of a wife.  The priest was to take bitter water and give it to the wife whose husband is unsure of her fidelity to Him and then declare:

Numbers 5:19-22
Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse —“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” (NIV)

Many outside the church claim the Christian stance of God’s sanctity for life has no basis because of passages such as these.  What they miss is that God and God alone is Judge.  He has the authority to dispense consequences though none of us do.  In the human realm, it is the same.  If I see someone robbing a bank, I can call it wrong.  Perhaps, I can make a citizens’ arrest.  But I don’t have the authority to condemn them to prison for any number of years.  Only those endowed with this authority can do this.  But we allow judges to hand down punishment even though they, themselves are not perfect.  It is a necessary, though a  highly imperfect, system in an attempt to maintain order.

Remember, the Bible places people into two categories: perfect and imperfect.  The first group only has one member.  His name is Jesus.  The rest of us belong to this other group.  Judges have authority to hand down consequences because it has been given them by man.  God’s authority, however, is based on His perfection.  Only the one who has never sinned can justifiably condemn those who have.  Like any kind Father trying to help their children live their best life, He motivates us with a promise of blessing to our children when we live according to His statutes, but the absence of these blessings, which is what a curse is, when we don’t follow this way also fall upon our children.  It is not that God does not value life.

He is the Good Father using both reward and punishment to help his children take the best path that He alone who is omniscient can know.

 

Is it ever ok to have an abortion?

A person’s lack of understanding of God’s authority to bless and curse must not be allowed to deceive us into believing that abortion is acceptable to God.  We should, however, have a posture of patience and mercy for those who do not understand.  Abortion is not acceptable to the Lord.  No person, no human being, has the moral authority to take the life of another innocent human being.  Judges may give the guilty a death sentence, but this is a man-made government attempting to establish order.  This is controversial enough, but to sentence to death an innocent baby is so far beyond what any human has the authority to demand.

What about in the case of rape, incest, or the danger of the mother?  These are beyond difficult situations.  Secular society will rationalize these moments, but the Bible calls for faith in the heart of a Christian.  Should I walk into my wife being raped, would it be acceptable to God for me to kill the rapist?  Yes, it would be.  I know that is going to throw many of my Christian brothers and sisters, but Scripture teaches this:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, (NIV)

We can not equate rape with abortion however because we know God allows and disallows our behavior according to the hearts of men made clear by their pattern of behavior.  In other words, a rapist is trying to do great harm, perhaps kill his victim.  A baby in the womb has not such intention so this comparison is apples and oranges.  Those who criticize the pro-life community will often use against this group, their support for the death penalty.  This is an unfounded comparison.

The pain of having a child from rape is more than what I can know or that anyone could know who has never gone through such a nightmare.  However, the principles of Scripture remain.  The Lord would call for us to lean on Him remembering that He is the God who makes streams in the desert, pathways in the wilderness, and brings life from death.  He would call for us to lean upon His promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

What is this escape but a way to move out from underneath the pressure creating temptation.  For some, this may be allowing the baby to be adopted.  For some, it may be raising the baby as a way of overcoming how our spiritual foe, Satan, would want to steal our joy, peace, and love.

This is so much easier for me to say this than for someone to endure it.  This is why I have no right to judge, neither does anyone else.  It’s easy to say a mother should stand up in court and offer forgiveness to the one who murdered her little boy because that is what Jesus would do.  But woe to anyone who judges another without walking in their shoes.  This is why the Bible says not to condemn one person for a speck of dust in their eye when we have a whole plank of wood in our own.  But the error of me judging someone who struggles to put their faith in the promises of God does not change the promises of God.  In all of these, the Lord calls upon us to let Him strengthen our faith.  Faith in His promises allows Him to take what was meant for evil and use it for good.  He takes that born in the spirit of death and subjects it to the spirit of life.  He reverses and defeats evil that all people might know that God is alive and His way is true.

 

How to minister to someone who has had an abortion?

Those who have had an abortion must be loved before they will believe that God still loves them.  As we love them, they will learn to trust our love for them.  They will be confident that our priority is their well-being.  Trust opens the door to speak of the dangers of immorality.  These will be words of life, not condemnation.  Those consumed with guilt because of abortion need to be reminded that the only sin that keeps the Lord from receiving them into His arms is their rejection of Him.  He will never reject anyone who comes to Him, but He will not force His way into the heart of someone rejecting Him.  They need to be reminded that their action was not the end, but the Lord has made provision for those who perish before reaching an age of understanding.  They need to know they will see their baby in the Heavenlies.

Love before morality opens a hardened heart to hear the truth of Scripture regarding forgiveness and the Heavenly reunion with babies they have never seen.

The Bible teaches morality without a doubt.  The Ten Commandments clearly reveal this and of course, the sixth commandment is “Thou Shall Not Murder.”  Christ, however, has not called us to be moralists, but Christlike.  The priority of moralists is to declare what is moral and what is not.  However, our priority as believers is not to teach morality, but to love.  Often, these will overlap.  For example, the negative consequences of abortion ranging from physical complications, emotional anguish, and mental health can be destructive to someone.  If we love them, we will guide them away from all destructive behavior as we ourselves attempt to live away from these same behaviors.  The separation between morality and love is found in the intent.  The intent of morality is to decide, teach, promote, and demand the right behavior.  Of course, to demand the right behavior without love tears people down.  Christians are commanded to build one another up.  The intent of love is heart transformation, so a person experiences the abundant life Christ has for them.  This distinction should affect our response to the issue of abortion.  Christians should care about the laws of the land and whether abortion is legal, but a higher priority is to help those who are suffering from the injurious effect of abortion.

Morality is truth regardless of impact, but we are taught to speak the truth in love.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It does not bring up past mistakes to do harm.  God does not break a bruised reed and neither should we.  We should never beat down someone who is already deeply hurt.  The power of God’s love is the message it sends to a sinful world.  The cross symbolizes God’s love for us even at our worst.  The Bible says we love God in response to Him loving us as we are in all our imperfection and sin.  Love transforms.  Morality without love embitters.

 

How to deal with the guilt that may come from having an abortion?

Many of you reading this may carry a weight of guilt because of an abortion.  I want to clearly say to you today that God loves you just like you are.  His compassion eclipses His wrath.  And I want you to know that the Bible teaches us that we all need God because all of us have broken His law.  As humans, we have placed greater emphasis on certain sins, but the Bible does not teach this.  Consider this passage for example:

Romans 1:29-32
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NIV)

Even though the human imagination supposes some sin is worse than others, it is only the immediate consequence of some sin that is greater than the immediate consequences of others.  God is more concerned with the long-term effect than the immediate consequences of any sin.  He considers all sin equally dangerous because the ‘little’ sins open the door to ‘bigger’ sins.  There are no ‘big’ sins without preceding ‘little’ sins.   This is what Solomon meant when he said it was the ‘little foxes that ruin the vineyards.’  What we see as little sins may actually be more dangerous because they are equally corrupting to our soul but much harder to detect.  If I killed a man, I would be fully aware of this, but I can easily justify and turn a blind eye to a small lie told to someone to make myself look better.  The way human society assesses sin, including the church many times, is not Biblical.

So when it comes to abortion, the human consequence is greater.  This is true, but God gives us a list in Romans that all lead to the same place of destruction.  There are some that seem ‘small’ such as gossip and disobedience to parents and some that seem ‘larger’ such as hating God.  God judges all of these as equally wicked and perilous to the good life He wants for us.  The only person who is perfect enough to judge you is God and He does not see abortion as somehow beyond redemption.  In fact, God has already forgiven you.  When He died on the cross, He died for all sin.  If God knows how many hairs are on the top of every head in the world, He surely knows every sin each person will commit.  In foreknowledge, He knew every sin you would ever commit and He died on the cross for your forgiveness.

Don’t let anyone, not even other Christians, convince you that God will not forgive.  Forgiveness is a gift that He has already left on your porch.  Like an Amazon package, it is waiting there for you to bring into the home of your heart.  It is a free gift.  The only unpardonable sin is to refuse to open the gift of forgiveness.  Let today be a new day.  If God is Judge and He has forgiven you, then who are you to condemn yourself?  Let God be the Judge.  Accept His judgment that all sin was crucified on Calvary and thrown into the deepest sea.  His blood shed on the cross has made you clean.  Accept His forgiveness.  Stop beating yourself up. Start living a new life in the grace of His mercy.

Now, go and live blessed because you are, then go and be a blessing to others because they need it.

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

Forgive others

How To Forgive

"Forgiveness may be one of the hardest things God asks us to do."

Perhaps one of the most difficult things asked of us by God is to forgive those who have hurt us.  Pain is easy.  It comes and takes root, but to release that pain in forgiveness can feel impossible.  Sometimes, we don’t even want to forgive, but we know the Lord has called us to do just that.  We also know it is not easy because the Lord, in teaching us the pattern for prayer, taught us to always pray for strength to forgive those who have trespassed against us.  

How do we forgive?  

How can we move on?  

How do we forgive someone who is not even sorry?

Is forgiveness supposed to take away the pain?

CS Lewis on Forgiveness

There are essentially two components to forgiveness: the emotional and the behavioral.  I want to address the emotional component first.

I beautiful lady came to me not too long ago.  She said, “Pastor, I need for you to teach me how to forgive.”  I did not dare answer then because there is no simple pattern.  We can find all over the internet formulas and steps to forgive, but ultimately forgiveness is an unnatural, anti-human nature to do.  Our human nature is many things including self-protective. 

The hurt we experience from someone we love is a pain so deep, we do not want to experience it ever again.  The inmost place of our soul begins almost immediately to create distance between us and the person.  We might physically refuse to see this person.  We might lash out in anger to make sure they don’t mess with us again.  We might shut down emotionally.  These are all attempts to self-protect and create distance between us and the source of our pain.  This, actually, is what is natural.  To create distance refusing to forgive is human nature.  To let the pain go, to let the person off the hook, now that is about as unnatural as a Texas cowboy driving a Prius.  But we have a calling upon our life to crucify what is natural and live a supernatural life and forgiveness is part of that life.

Anger insulates the hurt but not just from that person.  It also insulates our hearts from others and from God.  Unrelinquished anger keeps a barrier around our hearts that keeps us from giving our hearts fully to others.  There is an underlying fear of being hurt deeply again by anyone including God so we put up emotional barriers.  The anger manifests in self-protection.  Though anger first comes out like a volcano, it finally sets in deep within us around our hearts.  This anger-filled insulation obliterates our ability to be vulnerable to another.  We can’t give ourselves to others out of fear of being hurt again.  It is a self-imposed prison that keeps us from love.  Grasping this concept is a great motivation for releasing anger.  Why should you be punished and imprisoned for what someone else did to you?

Of course, we have all heard how forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, but this doesn’t make it any easier to do.  The truth is that so much of your ability to forgive a person when they have hurt you is dependent upon how you have responded to others who have hurt you in the past.  Let me explain.

Anger is a God-given emotion.  There is a positive, God-purpose to anger.  God got angry.  Jesus got angry.  Anger is God’s way of prompting us into action.  We are supposed to do something about whatever has stirred our anger.  But here is the problem: If, in the past, when someone hurt us, we did not or could not do what was necessary to protect our heart, then the fear of being hurt increases with each painful betrayal by those nearest to us.  

If we are hurt over and over again as little children, we never had the power to make it stop.  Our little bodies and voices were no match for the giants hurting us.  It produces in us a sense of hopelessness and this will transform into an emotional void.  We resign ourselves to not feel anything because it is too risky.  Who wants to have hope just to be devastated yet again.  The hopelessness may also transform into resentment and anger.  This anger remains repressed until we realize, as we get older, that we do have power.  Our resolution to not allow people to hurt us creates a hyper-sensitivity so we experience the tiniest pebbles of offenses like boulders falling on our heads.  We live isolated and alone never really knowing how to connect, to love, nor to be loved.  

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is the unquenchable desire to be love interwoven into the hopelessness or anger so that even though someone may hurt us deeply, we can’t create the space we need to guard our hearts.  We may have a barrier of anger, but it lasts only for a short time because we don’t want to push them away for good.  We remain in the negative cycle of hurt, rage, reconciliation, and repeat.

To be able to forgive, we must learn how to create boundaries.  The emotional prison of anger restricts our freedom to love.  Anger traps us within our own resentment.  Boundaries push back against those who have hurt us without restricting our freedom to love and be loved.  Because we have pushed back on their destructive behavior, we are free to love.  When they continue to cross this boundary, we are able to create more space accordingly.  These boundaries are not just for us.  It is our recognition that their destructive behavior toward us is also not good for them.  Boundaries then can only be set out of love for us and them.  

If you have never learned how to set healthy boundaries, you are more than likely existing in your own cell of pain and disappointment, but there is hope.  You can start today.  Boundaries are established through love and consequences.  For example, if every time you go to your Mother-in-law’s home, she never stops criticizing you for everything you have ever done and not done.  The first consequence might be a loving question that gives her the benefit of the doubt such as, “Do you realize you criticize me often?”  However, if things continue, the consequence may escalate so that as soon as she says a critical word, you hug her, tell her you love her, but you have to get back home.  You don’t have to stay.

Setting healthy boundaries is not easy.  The foundation necessary to help us stand as we set healthy boundaries is to remind ourselves that God loves us as we are.  And He is the only expert on the value of a person.  If He sees us worthy enough to die on a cross for us, then we must be loveable, warts and all.  Most people who hurt us repeatedly make us feel as if we are unloveable, but this is not true.  Their inability to treat us with love and respect says nothing about who we are but says everything about who they are.  It is not that you are unloveable, but they do not know how to love well.  

You may feel as though you need to earn their love, but love that must be earned is not love.  It’s emotional prostitution.  You are compelled to earn their love.  Once we understand this, we lose the desperation we feel to be loved by these people.  When we no longer feel desperate to be loved by them, we can set healthy boundaries in love to them.  And then the ball is in their court.  They can choose to treat us as we should be treated or they can continue the wrong direction and we will continue to escalate the consequences given in love.  

We do need to relinquish the anger by setting boundaries instead, but we cannot expect the pain to disappear into the night.  In fact, even as we set the boundaries, the feeling of anger will not go away quickly.  As we learn to set boundaries and see that we don’t have to be a victim, then we will see the anger subsist more quickly.  However, remember there is a purpose to the anger.  Anger reminds us that we need boundaries. 

Everything God has given us, the devil attempts to pervert.  God gave us anger to help us know when we need to lovingly set boundaries.  The devil wants us to use anger to imprison ourselves and ruin our lives.  We may need for the anger to remain to ensure that we don’t move back into the negative cycle of hurt, rage, reconciliation, repeat.  

Now that we have discussed the emotional journey of learning to forgive, let’s address the behavioral part of it all.  Love is the key.  Patience, kindness, compassion, not easily angered is the behavior of healthy

boundaries.  Now, remember, you may still ‘feel’ angry, but unless you start to establish healthy boundaries, the anger will imprison you.  So while you are ‘feeling’ angry, force your behavior to be loving, kind, compassionate, without anger.  Use this behavior to communicate, establish, and execute your boundaries.  

It may seem you are being fake, but the reality is that you are simply using your anger in a different way that will keep you free to love and be loved while also guarding your heart.  If you wait until you no longer ‘feel’ anger to change your behavior, it will never happen.  If the absence of anger is the destination, loving behavior is the Amtrack to get you there.

One thing we haven’t yet addressed is what if that person isn’t even sorry.  What if they don’t even care they have hurt you?  Then what?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter.  If you desperately need for them to be sorry, this comes from a desperation to be loved by them.  This is human and normal, but forgiveness is spiritual, transcendent.  If you operate in the human, you will spend your days in that emotional prison.  Elevate yourself to the Kingdom of Heaven and recognize you have all the love you could ever need from God so that you no longer ‘need’ anyone to love you.  This is a paradigm shift you must adopt if you are going to be able to overcome the pain inflicted on you by others.  You won’t feel it at first, but it is the truth.  If God is truly the God He claims to be, then He is all we need.  Once we realize we don’t ‘need’ someone to love us, then we can love them with healthy boundaries which will often help them love us better.  

I hate to say it this way but our need for someone to apologize and make things right is a form of pride.  I am not saying that we all don’t want someone to apologize, but if we ‘need’ it in order to release the anger, then not only have we imprisoned ourselves, but we have given them the key to the lock.  No one should have that much power over us except God Himself who would never lock us up.  Instead, remind yourself that Jesus loved you so much to die for you and you do not ‘need’ someone else to love you. 

Luke 23:34

Then, instead of being a victim, start being Christ to that person by lovingly setting the boundaries that you both need for your own well-being.  

Forgiveness is not this easy decision to stop being angry.  It is a skill that we improve on as we learn to walk through it.  Understanding the emotional hindrances to forgiveness along with the behaviors necessary to find the strength to forgive will allow you to hone this skill of letting things go, releasing yourself of the anger, and loving those who have hurt you while guarding your own heart.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

Be sure to share or like this post if it ministered to you.  And leave a comment.  I would love to interact with you.

the motive of love

The Motive of Love

Motive is everything.  Proverbs 6 lists out those things that God hates and first on the list are haughty eyes, a prideful attitude motivated by selfish gain.  He hates this.  And it is first on the list.  What does that say?  The selfish motive is higher up on the list of things God hates than murder, even murder of innocent blood.  Pride, arrogance is the number 1 listed thing that provokes hatred from the heart of God more than murder, theft, causing strife in the community.  God judges our behavior not on action alone, but our motive.  Why are we doing what we do?

The complexity of God’s wisdom is beyond the reaches of human genius, yet the Holy Spirit is able to break things down so that even I can understand it.  To get it through my thick skull, He reminds me that motive is the deciding factor of the eternal quality of anything I do or say.  And if my motive is not to love, a desire for what is best for others above myself, then all words and actions are like filthy rags tossed into Heaven’s trash compactor.  They mean nothing.  They accomplish nothing.  Here is how the Holy Spirit breaks it down:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

A selfish person is a whisp of air gone quickly without meaning, a life that ends without lasting significance.  The greater love, the greater impact, change, healing, empowering, restoring, renewing pours out of who we are.  Without love, we are just taking up space.  So, how do I love better?  How can I make my life count?  To love is all that matters, but let’s be honest-love is hard.  To love those who love us is also meaningless.  True impact occurs when we love those who are not loving us.  This is where the control valve of God’s power is opened full blast.  Love is it, love is everything.  Is your motive in love self-centered trying to get what you want from others?  This type of love is natural, of the flesh, under the curse of death.  Impure motives with those we love will only ruin or, at best, create tension in relationships.  Motive determines the health of relationships not only with God, but with others.

This love is unnatural.  Like low-fat ice cream, natural love leaves much to be desired.  It is fake, artificial.  It pretends to be what it is not.  True love is pure selflessness.  This is a matter of the heart and the mind.  How can I do what is best for someone else if I don’t know what that person needs?  They may communicate well with their wishes and wants, but these are not always needed.  To know what others need, I must put forth effort to know them more than superficially and attempt to do what is best for them, love them.  My attempt and desire to love will be met with power from on high.  The Holy Spirit, not a spirit of fear, but love in its purest form will meet me and fill me with the wisdom of love accompanied by a transformed heart that no longer has to strive to love, but loves naturally in a way that was unnatural.  Unless I get the ball rolling, the Spirit will not give me what I need.  Want to love better, just start trying.  Do your best.  Ask yourself what is the best for the other and do your best.  Don’t get confused by what they may say, but seek the Lord’s wisdom to study their life situation to find the way of love.  Significance and meaning in your life will follow closely.

Nothing done without love will matter, but as the trickle of God’s love surges to a steady flow, you will find yourself overwhelmed with greater joy, peace, purpose, mission, fulfillment.  As Phil Roberson says, “Now we are cooking with peanut oil.”  The best of the best of life comes when we start putting forth the effort to love others with a pure motive of selflessness.

Take a moment and check your motives.  Where can you start to put forth greater effort to love with selfless motives?

Y’all be blessed and be a blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

Search me o god

Search Me O God

“Search me O God.” The Psalmist asks God to search his heart confident God will give grace.  Intellectually, we know that God is omnipresent and omniscient, but the issues of life can drive our knowledge of His essence right out of our minds.  Psalm 139 is one of the most transcendent passages in Scripture.  David, under pressure from enemies that hate him, reminds Himself that God already knows everything.  Nothing can be hidden from the presence of God.  He knows our thoughts before they reach our tongue to be spoken.  He is more aware of my physical and emotional bearing than I am.  Seriously, half the time, I am befuddled by the pace and direction the world spins politically, socially, and even religiously.  How can I understand these things?  But, like David, I find comfort in the stillness of His awareness of all things everywhere.  Where can we go to hide from the Lord?  Our thoughts are as clear to Him as a giant neon billboard along the highway.

It is in this knowledge of God’s pervading presence where nook and cranny cannot hide that David cries out, “Search me O God and know my anxious thoughts.”

He does not ask God to search his heart for God’s knowledge because God already knows everything in his heart.  God knows everything in your heart.  He knows every innocent and perverse thought we have entertained.  David is asking God to reveal to David what he doesn’t know about himself.  Isn’t it something how we can block out the parts of us we don’t want to see.  Knowing our wicked thoughts and impure desires oblige us to build a wall in our mind blinding us from what we are ashamed of and the sin we refuse to release.  David is fully aware of his unawareness and He calls out to the Lord for help.  The Lord is our ever-present help in trouble.  He has known our impurity and wickedness, yet has not condemned our soul.  He has known the sin we grasp so tightly, yet He has continued to bless us anyway.

To grasp the knowledge God has of every particle of air that passes through our lungs, every hair on our head, every electrical impulse in our brain, every dream, every desire, every sin, and every praise stills our fear and opens our heart to the God who knows us at our worst and loves us anyway.  We are confident to receive grace as He reveals that which is unholy within because He has known it all along and lavishly poured out love and grace still.

Do not be afraid to let God search your heart and show you what you need to escape from.  He is not the guard who locks the cell.  He is the angel leading you out opening doors that others have locked to keep you imprisoned to your own fear and addiction.  Search me O God.  Let this be your prayer this morning and may you find rest in the knowledge of God that has soaked through the mental firewalls we have installed.  He is God.  He is good.  He is love.  He is forgiveness.  And He is all of this with full knowledge of your anxious thoughts.

When you meditate on this, what does it mean to you?  Leave me a comment and a prayer for God to search your heart.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

Take me to the king

Take Me to the King!

 

She had nothing to offer.  No one had poured anything into her life.  A life of emptiness and pain, forgotten and undone, she lived her life outside of the reputation accepted by her world.  Never a hope to grasp nor a dream to fulfill, she released hope to avoid the pain of disappointment.  She had no one then she found Jesus.  Nothing would keep her from the king.

 

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Luke 7:37-38 (NIV)              

 

We don’t know how or when this woman first encountered Jesus.  We don’t know if she met Him in person, perhaps He prayed for her, maybe she had heard Him speak.  All we know was that she was a sinful woman.  She had been forgiven much as Jesus used her stream of devotion to illustrate entire acquisition of forgiveness born out of authentic repentance.  

Free GiftThis woman, rich in heartache, emblemized by the perfume that had served to facilitate fleshly indulgence becoming her method of adoration, poured herself out at the feet of the man who forgave lavishly.  He soothed her torment with acceptance.  For the first time, she felt valued and when she again heard that Jesus would be in this home, she would not be denied the privilege of anointing Him with her worship.  No doubt she had given her body to many and never imagined anyone might desire her heart.  When she found a man who loved her, nothing could distract her.  

Controlled by judging eyes and harsh words her entire life, but now, in the home of her accusers, she worshiped in freedom without taking notice of who else might be in the room.  She had come boldly to the throne of grace.  Oh to know the beauty of acceptance that overwhelms the shame.  This was her joy and it is ours.  

Many will judge, criticize, and discard you like rubbish.  Their words ring loud and often in our ears.  We cower and hide to escape condemnation to no avail.  Imprisoned by what others see when they look our way, we want to shrink and disappear, but when we come to the Throne of Grace, His acceptance knocks down the arrows of their words.  To know this love and acceptance moves us, changes us.  We hide no longer, but come out boldly in the value He has bestowed.  We cry out to Him. 

I will not be stopped.  Say what you will, you cannot keep me from Him.  He loved me first. I am acquitted in His presence.  He is my freedom and I will not be kept away.  Beat me and I will keep coming.  Shove me, push me, run me out, I will only return more determined than ever.  Take me to the King.  Take me to My love for I am His beloved.  I am only His.  I am only His and He is mine.  Take me to the King.  I will pour out my past, my pain, my hurt and He will receive it all, every Hell I have walked in, He will take it from me.  Isolation, shame, and fear, I will pour it out and He will remove it from me as my Healer, my Physician.  He will make beautiful in me even my past, even my sin, even my hate, anger.  He receives from me all that people hate and loves me anyway.  Take me to the King!  

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 


Rolling RiverLet Justice Roll on Like a River

For today’s Verse of the Day, I think I am just going to jump right in.  This topic hits at the core of our society still today:

Amos 5:24

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)

In this verse, the words ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’ are almost synonymous.  These two words are very closely connected. We live in a day where justice is a hot topic.  We have about a million Law and Order-type shows. Some of the most popular movies are murder mysteries where someone is trying to right a wrong.  Even the Marvel movies have heroes that form the Justice League. Wait…is that Marvel…or is it DC…ahhhhh, I just can’t keep it all straight! I’m more of a Looney Tunes kind of guy.  Anyway, the point is that these heroes are supposed to be exacting justice…Read More

 


Looking Into the MirrorLooking Into the Mirror

There was blood running like a small river down the side of my face.  I hadn’t felt it. I didn’t even know it was there and I was about to walk out the door and go to work.  The blood would have quickly run down my face and ruined my brand-spanking-new Walmart shirt. What a waste it would have been!  Thankfully, as I was making the last walkthrough of the house turning out lights before I left for work, I reached into the bathroom and looked into the mirror and saw the blood.  But what if I had never looked into the mirror? I would have been like that bloody horror figure. I would have frightened my staff. They would have run out of the church with screams and shrills afraid of the blood-covered monster 🙂 Read More

 

 


The Wisdom of MercyThe Wisdom of Mercy

God is rich in mercy

I just recently had someone ask me, “So if a child rapist asks for forgiveness, God forgives?”  The answer, of course, is yes. In our finite mind, this seems absurd. But we have to put this into the right perspective.  God may forgive, but He still allows consequences. He may allow a person to receive the gift of salvation, but this doesn’t mean the person doesn’t go to prison.  It doesn’t mean the person never has to face up to what he or she has done. In fact, God commands that we make restitution which is to do everything we can to make right those things we have done wrong. Nevertheless, it is very easy to think that God is too kind to the wicked.  And that brings us to our Verse of the Day…Read More

 

 

 


 

killing the church

Covid is Killing the Church

 

Covid is killing the church.  I don’t mean that tons of people in the church are getting covid.  I mean the issue of covid is killing the church.  The secular narrative around covid is creating tension, division, and offense in church relationships, but what does the Bible say?

Because covid is a matter of life and death, which it is, then if someone takes a point of view that others disagree with, the devil’s scheme is to tempt us with the narrative that people either don’t care about those who have gotten covid or had loved ones who have passed away from it.  From the opposite side, people are tempted to think those who disagree with them are either idiots believing a false narrative or a victim of lies from our society.

The same is true about Black Lives Matter, the 2020 election,  and every other social issue burning up our television screens and social media accounts.  I want to look at what the Scripture says about this type of situation and how we should handle it as believers.  Let’s dig into the Word:

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
Romans 14:1-10 (NIV)

Why are we judging our Christian brothers and sisters?

In this passage, Paul is dealing with a conflict that has come up between believers.  He is trying to keep the social issues of their day from killing the church.  Some believers are declaring that the church must worship on a particular day for it to be ‘right.’  And others do not believe it has to be on a certain day as long as when a person worships, they do it in the right spirit to God.  Some people were limiting their diet believing it was the ‘right’ thing to do for their faith.  Others were saying that God had made everything clean and a person could eat what they want so long as they gave thanks.  Does this sound familiar?  The different opinions of Christians’ believed methodology to honor Christ has always been a point of division.  The devil is an expert in finding issues to divide.  His greatest desire is killing the church.

The crazy Christian twitter world reveals cannibalistic Christianity.  We are eating our own because we disagree about this or that.  But what is Paul trying to teach us?

If people disagree with us, we can’t then lump them into a pile in our head of false teachers, false prophets, sinners, or pagans.  We need to understand their motive.  If their motive is that Christ be glorified, then let’s celebrate this and not judge them.  If you are a Christian republican and you think the term Christian democrat is an oxymoron or if you believe the opposite to be true, can we, at the very least admit that neither party operates in the purity Christ would desire.  The democratic party supports a women’s right to choose whether or not to keep a baby believing life begins at birth, not conception.  Yes, the Scripture says life actually begins before conception (Jeremiah 1:5) so to take a life after conception would displease God.  But on the Republican side, has anyone seen President Trump’s tweets that use words that do anything but build others up.  He calls names, makes fun, and can be downright nasty.  So, please, as Christians, can we accept the fact that neither political party represents Christ.

Political parties do not represent Christ, but God does call us to reflect Christ.  And Christ was full of grace and truth.  In the church right now, there is a temptation to put all our marbles into the truth or at least what we believe to be true, but we have forgotten about grace.

Paul goes on to call upon people to stop judging one another.  The word ‘judge’ here means to project a belief or thought on to someone who has not expressed this thought or idea and then condemn them as if it is true even though it is not.  This is what we are doing church.  Someone says they are democratic so then we assume they love abortion.  Another says they are republican and we assume they are racist.  This is absurd!  It is not Biblical and we are breaking God’s heart by treating one another like this.  We have forgotten about grace.

Paul says if someone believes something different, we first need to consider if they are attempting to glorify Christ though it might be a different method than we would use.  Could someone lean left politically, believing the government should help the poor and needy because this is what Christ would want?  YES!  THIS IS POSSIBLE!  Is it possible for someone to lean to the right, believing the government shouldn’t take from those who have in order to give to those who have not because they believe Christians and the church should be caring for the poor in the name of Christ instead of the government in the name of the state?  YES! THIS IS POSSIBLE!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God in the belief that everyone should be wearing masks as a way of loving their neighbor to honor Christ? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God in the belief we should not let the government dictate how we worship because it is a slippery slope?  YES!

Both can be true!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by taking a neighbor out for a good, fatty cheeseburger and fries? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by not eating what they believe to be unhealthy food?  YES!

Both can be true!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by supporting Black Lives Matter to protest racism and police brutality? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by rejecting the Black Lives Matter organization because of their socialist agenda believing socialism historically has worked against freedom of religion? YES!

Both can be true!

When we try to force every believer to take the same side as us on every social issue, we are killing the church.  Some issues are a sin issue and we want to encourage them away from sin obviously.  If we believe covid is the worst pandemic we have ever known or if we believe it has been exaggerated, neither belief is sinful.  The important thing for each believer is to respond in a way that glorifies Christ based on what we believe is true.  The worst thing we can do is criticize and judge whose who see it differently.  We can’t keep killing the church.

The point is if a Christian brother or sister sees the world different from you, so long as they are convinced that their beliefs and actions are the best way to honor Christ, then we are not to judge them.  It doesn’t mean we can’t try to help them see another viewpoint and it doesn’t mean they will not change how they see the world at some point in their life.  But if we judge and dismiss brothers and sisters in Christ over social issues, the devil will ravish the church like a hungry wolf devours an innocent lamb.  We can agree to disagree in love without judgment and condemnation.  Let us love one another and give grace, buillding up the church to the full measure of Christ.  That’s way better than killing the church.

Leave your comments and let me know what you think.  Are we killing the church?

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 


guard your heart

Guard Your Heart

Do you believe God has a beautiful plan for your life?  If you don’t, you are denying Scripture and the very words of God.  He has said that He has a plan for your life and that plan is beyond comprehension filled with hope, purpose, and prosperity of the soul (Jeremiah 29:111 Corinthians 2:9-10Ephesians 2:10).  These bring meaning and enjoyment to life.  But how do we find this plan?  let’s consider this passage:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)  Read More

 


Walk in the LightWalk in the Light

The Bible says we are to walk in the light as He is in the light.  If you have been in church for any amount of time, you have heard the comparison of the things of God and light.  God is the Father of Lights (James 1:17).  He covers Himself in light (Psalm 104:2).  Jesus was the Light of the World (John 8:12).  His life is the light of men (John 1:4).  This analogy saturates Scripture, and this brings us to our Verse of the Day:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)

What does it mean to walk in the light?…Read More

 


Enjoy the RideEnjoying the Ride

One of my favorite memories of my oldest son was during one of the worst times in our life. I remember that we had to buy an old Mustang.  I think we spent $500 at one of those car dealerships that you wondered if it was really a front for some other kind of devious activity, but we had no credit and we needed a car.  I was teaching and we had a brand new baby. We were young and too far away from family. We turned to our church for our family. We are still eternally grateful for Dave and Honey, Molly, and Mendy, Pastor Mike, and Bob Bolton.

I am not sure how we got it.  I think my parents gave it to our little boy for Christmas.  It was a tiny plastic roller coaster-type toy that we put together in the hallway of our tiny apartment in Waco, Texas.  It was made for 2-year-olds. We would put our son on this little yellow car and push him down the ten-foot track taking him…Read More

 


 

giving grace

Giving Grace

 

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

 

This is one of my more favorite old hymns.  It speaks of the grace of God, the unmerited favor of God driven by His merciful heart to give to us what we don’t deserve beginning with breath in our lungs, salvation in our souls, and sanctification that endures for generations.  It is the apex of God’s love for us.  It is at the epicenter of all that we believe yet so hard to duplicate in our own heart.  To receive grace is a wonderful gift.  To give grace is an exercise we grapple with.

Joseph was the favorite of Jacob and his brothers hated him because of it.  Jacob had made a coat of many colors for Joseph that reflected how his vision of Joseph was vivid and grande compared to the grayscale vision he saw the other brothers.  

In their anger, they sold him into slavery.  There, he excelled, but then falsely imprisoned.  In prison, once again, he excelled.  The anointing of the Lord was on Him in all he did.  Finally, rescued from prison as the interpreter of dreams, God placed him second only to Pharoah over all of Egypt.  Following his own interpretations of Pharaoh’s dream, he rescued all of Egypt and the nations around Egypt by saving up food in good seasons knowing full well a famine was coming.  So many lives saved.

When his father died, his brothers were afraid he would now take vengeance on them, but here is what he said, “What was intended for evil, God used for good” (Genesis 50:20). He understood he did not sit in the seat of God as judge over his brothers.

The Bible says that God is working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). What an amazing promise that God would turn everything intended for evil against us for our own good!  We have no reason to fear God or hate man even when we are the object of evil.  Through it all, we can trust His promise to work it for our good.  But we also have a part in this promise.  We must love Him and live according to His purpose.  These are the triggers releasing the power to turn evil set against us into good working for us.

To love God is to obey.  He taught us to forgive as He has forgiven.  As He has given grace, so should we.  His purpose is for us to live a life reflecting His character.  A Christian who doesn’t live in the spirit of forgiveness does not let the light of Christ shine, but covers it.  For us to give grace to those who have hurt us reveals the God of grace who forgave us while we were yet sinners.  So hard to do.  We have to fight anger, bitterness, and vengeance, giving grace.  But if we can draw from the power of the Spirit to do just that, power is released allow God to turn the attack into a benefit, a curse into a blessing.  To withhold grace is to refuse this gift.

I don’t know about you, but I would say this gift is too wonderful to refuse.  Let’s give grace.

 

“you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” – Genesis 50:20

Live blessed and be a blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

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crucifixion of christ

It Was Personal – The Crucifixion of Christ

How often have we heard the story of the crucifixion of Christ?  We must never stop telling the story of the God who sent His only Son to take the punishment of sin for every soul that has ever lived.  It is a powerful story, but it is a gruesome story.

We sing songs and whitewash the gory details so often to tell the wondrous story that saves our souls, but we can never forget it was the most victorious moment for Hell.  The air was full of demons crowded around to see what they believed to be the defeat of Heaven’s Hero.  Entering into the hearts of people in the crowd to lie about Jesus, to falsely accuse Him, to drive the Roman soldiers to delight as they scraped away Jesus’ flesh in the flogging.  They didn’t think twice about attaching a living human being to wooden crossbars with nails driven through the flesh, tendons, and muscles of the wrist and the tops of his overlapping feet.  Blood splattered to the delight of the crowd and every perverted demon. 

Though mortal, He had infinite knowledge of all things which includes you and me.  The Bible says that nothing has been made but by Him.  As He pushed on the nail driven into his feet to extend his body and open his lungs for one more breath, He knew exactly why and for whom He did this.  Knowing each and every human being by name, by face, by personality, He did it for each of us.  He endured for those who would believe and for those who never will.  He is no respecter of persons.  Whosoever believes will be saved.  He thought of my face as the sturdy thorns were driven into His.

Fully aware of my sins and yours, He remained silent before His accusers.  The shameful decisions we wish to hide, He knew every detail that He might cover them fully.  He was pierced for our transgressions.  He did not fight the nails.  He did not squirm or flinch, but cherished every ring of the hammer upon His nails.  He held still as Roman soldiers struck Him in the face.  He could have called each one of them by name.  He knew their Mom, their Dad, their pain, their joy, their lost dreams, and their lost childhood.  He was bruised for those who bruised Him.  He considered it all joy that these bruises would bring healing to every hurtful word, every abusive moment, every neglectful act He already knew we would face.

He saw my face when I sat in my room alone struggling in depression.  He saw your face when despair and hopelessness overwhelmed.  It was for you and for me.  And it was not easy.  It was Hellish.  He took our defeat that we might live in His victorious resurrection.  In Heaven, He calls out our name before His Father.  He calls us by the nickname given to us by our grandmother.  It was for you that He embraced the suffering of the cross.  And it was not easy.  The crucifixion of Christ was not simple.  It was Hell on Earth.  It was complete humiliation and torture beyond anything any of us will ever know.  And it was personal.  

When we whitewash the bloody details of the cross, we lose the depth of His passion for our soul.  He must remember He suffered, bled, suffocated, and died in matchless pain.  And He did it with you in mind.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 

God bless you all.  You are all in my prayers.  May the crucifixion of Christ be ever on your mind today, that He did it all for you.

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net