Tag Archives: forgive

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 1

Reading through 2 Timothy, I keep sensing there is something there for me to see and understand. Today I finally get it.

In preparing us for the day of prayer coming up on the 24th, 2 Timothy has many truths we need to possess in preparation to pray for and to receive God’s liberating transformation in our personal areas of need. The first need is this:

“I thank God, whom I SERVE WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Beloved, our first need in ministry, including in the ministry of prayer for self and others, is for a clear conscience. This clear conscience is twofold:

First, a clear conscience surrenders all sin. We must seek the Father to reveal through His Spirit in us all areas of personal sin in need of repentance. Sin in us will hinder our prayers for self and others. It will hinder our own liberating transformation. So we must cleanse our own spiritual house and clear our conscience.

Second, a clear conscience is one that holds to the truth known. What we know of God; the things we know true of our relationship with Him and our service to Him; all we know true of His gifts in us and our fruit bearing in Christ: our full assurance of conscience in these things is vital for our journey forward.

So, today – and for as many days as it takes – confess and repent of sins; and confess, profess, and possess the truths you hold firm within you.

A Word for Today: ONE

Vital message! Please read and make ready.

Most of you do not know me, but if you posses and know the Spirit of the One and only living God, you will know of Him, if the following message is His voice coming to your ears through His mouthpiece. Father, grant discernment of truth to every ear, I pray. In Christ, amen.

Beloved, it is vital that we, the Body of Christ, be ONE in Him, the fulfillment of His John 17 prayer. Our differences and petty squabbles MUST be set aside. Any discord that separates brethren in Christ, great or small, is petty compared to what is ahead. A devastation is about to hit that will work a glorious good, and it requires our unity.

So get your heart ready, Beloved. Our unity with one another is vitally linked with each of our spiritual health in Christ. We must each be found walking as one with Father, Son, and Holy Presence, for our unity in His body to possess the necessary cohesion.

Trust in the leading of Christ is vital today. However strange the Spirit’s lead is, willing and effective, step-by-step obedience is vital to our readiness.

“…to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:1-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Father, lead us. We are listening with ears set to hear.

My Lighthouse, by Rend Collective

Pray For Those Who Hurt You

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” ~ Luke 6:27-28, NLT.

God speaks this passage as reminder to me today, especially the command to “Pray FOR those who hurt you. Check how you are praying, Darlene.”

People hurt people. There are many causes that lead people to hurt one another, some malicious, some incidental and unintended. Some hurt comes with the best of intentions. We all struggle in various ways that can lead us to carry our feelings as on our shoulders, where the actions and words of others easily knock us around: fear of rejection and other such insecurities. Some carry their “feelings” on their shoulders because they are walking in an ungodly lifestyle, they know it, and they don’t want anyone telling them about it. People who struggle in any of the above tend to hurt those around them out of their own struggle and insecurities. Those trapped in the common sins of our day tend to hurt those around them in the very practice of their lifestyles: drug addicts steal from those they love most; adulterers destroy their own families; etc. We hurt each other, and praying properly for those who hurt us is often a challenge.

What does it mean to pray for those who hurt us? Too often, in praying for someone who hurt me, I find myself truly praying for me: praying selfishly.

“Lord, they falsely accused me. Make them know the truth and apologize.”

“Lord, they stole from me. Make them repent and pay it back.”

Problem is that their heart intent may be nowhere near my comprehension of the truth of their heart. I may have misunderstood their words. I may be reading between the lines and comprehending an accusation they never meant. I may receive insult from actions that truly were not aimed at me as I stepped between them and their target. Praying for others out of our hurt can lead to selfish requests that God cannot answer. Our best, most effective praying seeks the heart of God for His truth regarding the need of the one whose actions / reactions hurt our feelings or did harm to our life, reputation, or sense of security.

We can learn a lot from how Jesus prayed FOR those hurting Him. He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Praying for others realizes truth: Jesus proclaiming “they know not what they do”. Praying for others refuses to give preference for one’s own desire, right, or recompense. Praying for others seeks God and His desire for them. Praying for others focuses on their deepest, truest needs. We all need God’s grace sufficient for us. We all need truth that sets us free from any lie. We all need repentant hearts that seek wholeheartedly after God.

Until we can pray for others, our own heart toward them will fall short of truly loving and caring for their need. Until we can pray for God to forgive them, just as Jesus did, and mean it, our own ability to forgive will fall short. Until we can pray for them to know His love, our ability to love those who hurt us truly will suffer loss. Until we can pray for eyes that see as God sees, compassion will fail us, transforming-truth will escape us, and love will find no roost for new growth.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…” ~ Romans 12:9-13 (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; Romans 13:7-14).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

God desires unity for His people, that we may be one as He is One. Our flesh, the ways of this world and demonic influences constantly work against that unity, seeking to destroy the work of God in and through us. The Apostle Paul calls the solution to our relationship issues, the “still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:11), the way that fulfills the law of God (Romans 13:8). Last post, we left our series with the following thought:

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

Realizing and walking in the truth brings healing to one’s own life and makes us more like Christ. Walking in truth accomplishes His work in our situations.

Series on topics like this are difficult to address as we don’t always like seeing the truth about ourselves. We live in a day when many focus on God’s love and grace to the point that we tend to shun any words used of the Spirit to point to sin issues in need of change. This series is disciplining me on my own issues seen in the course of the study, but the blessing of coming into agreement with God in a way that helps me adjust to Him far outweighs the struggle.  When my struggle helps others in the process, that fruit born in others is glorious!

Controversy between people is like the old quarters with the gold colored strip in the center. There are two sides to every situation between two people. The truth is in the gold strip between them, found only in seeking God, who knows the heart of each involved. He faithfully leads us to know our habitual responses that promote separation. He helps us to work our way to the gold strip where unity and peace reside. I am thankful for the truth God is teaching me about myself in this series; and I am watching for His word to come to pass that He highlighted for me in promise for the produce of this series:

“This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” ~ Psalm 102:18.

I read this promise and I see families, friendships, and churches working their way to healing that will have an effect on future generations, leading to their worship of God. Thus, we continue today to our conclusion.

Have you read the scripture that talks of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? When we have a habitual sin that causes trouble and separates us from God, as well as from others, God often puts people in our lives that rub that area raw. His purpose is to help us let go of old ways of the flesh and walk in the new, testing / proving our obedience. The question is, will we realize God’s purpose and cooperate with His Spirit in taking off the old to dawn the new?

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” ~ 1 Peter 1:22.

Truth purifies the soul, making us fertile soil for God’s love to produce a crop through us. There are two things I find God constantly working on me to accomplish: one is my ability to forgive as He forgives. The other is my ability to love as He loves.

The ability to forgive is vital to a love relationship that lasts. Forgiveness must be from the heart as God forgives. God, our example, taught me long ago to forgive “for my own sake” as He does (Isaiah 43:25 Note that Israel was unrepentant when God professed His grace toward them).

The purpose of choosing forgiveness “for my own sake” is so we can move on in life, be all God desires, accomplishing His work as one who is truly able to love even those who hurt us. Our choosing to forgive protects from bitterness, anger, and other emotional snares that hinder love, destroy relationship with God and people, and rob of effectiveness in ministry.

God is our hope and help in every relationship issue. He desires our unity, especially with those who are brothers and sisters with us in Christ. Our true enemy is our own sin nature that opens us to the influence of demons and principalities that work against God, separating brothers, and destroying our witness as God’s people.

In any discord between people of God, we see that battle continue when we fail to realize the true enemy and wind up fighting against each other. The enemy of our soul realizes our fleshly impulses that lead to discord and makes sure, when relationship issues come, our minds keep returning to “what they did to me.” Therefore, when we have a habit that makes us vulnerable to God’s enemy, God puts iron in life to sharpen and hone our character.

The love God calls each to possess as His child is a type we can freely give even to those we struggle to get along with. That love desires what is best for those we love, seeking to help them achieve all the great potential God places within them, leading them to God, and encouraging them to come up higher in Christlikeness. That love is unconditional: not hindered or harmed by insult. It is also incorruptible: it does not act unbecomingly toward the object of love, nor lead the one loved into sin. The very heart of a factious nature seeks to lead others to disunity for ungodly reasons that oppose love.

The love God calls us to possess in likeness to Him does not keep a count of all we believe a person has done to hurt us, bringing that back into play every time a new situation arises. Love, coupled with forgiveness given for one’s own sake, deals with the situation at hand, puts it to rest (RIP), and wipes the slate clean. This is healing, and this series pictures a love-walk God can use for His glory.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 9

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” ~ Jude 1:16.

When a disagreement with others that gets contentious, our flesh getting out of control of the Spirit, we tend to grumble and complain about others involved, finding their every flaw, blaming them for causing the problem. Desiring to believe oneself in the right and true of heart (lust of our flesh), we see things as we want to see them (lust of the eyes), telling others of the situation from that viewpoint (boastful pride of life). Without the Spirit to correct our course, our flesh desiring others to agree that we are right and the other party wrong, we will tell our side with flattery meant to win the advantage.

Seeking God for a more clear understanding of this flattery as seen in a divisive situation, He sent me to the dictionary:

Flatter ~ To show off becomingly or advantageously. Give an unrealistically favorable impression of.

In other words, flattery in the context of our discourse means to make oneself and one’s own actions sound better than they are in order to gain approval. It makes sense that when we are refusing to see our own flaws that add to the discord, we would speak all that we want to believe true of self, desiring others to agree that the other party is at fault. Going to the scriptures for increased understanding, here is what I find:

“They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” ~ Psalm 12:2.

The problem with this flattery when we are a true child of God: the Spirit will not allow us to get away with ignoring our own sin nature and habits. Every time I tell my side from a flesh-driven viewpoint or think my thoughts, bitterly blaming the other party, thinking more highly of myself than I ought, the Spirit nudges me. In that instance of my thinking and telling in opposition to the Spirit’s nudge of truth within, I am struggling with a double or two-faced heart. It is not until I sit still before God and sincerely ask “What?” that I can find the truth in myself that brings the repentance that heals a breach of relationship.

“A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin” ~ Proverbs 26:28.

This says to me that in refusing to seek the Spirit for truth, not only does my false understanding and representation crush those I come out against, but it crushes me. When I am walking in sin, refusing the work of the Spirit that convicts “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8), I hurt myself, putting a wall between my God and me.

I can do nothing apart from God, beloved. Without God working in me, I can’t mend the proverbial fences, repent and change my ways so as to be a better person, or truly forgive and love those around me as I should. Healing in any contentious situation must begin with me coming into agreement with God’s view of the issue by getting still before God, knowing Him and His ways, so that I can adjust to be as He is in truth and in deed.

“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue” ~ Proverbs 28:23.

One thing this speaks to me is our need to keep the situation between the others involved and me alone. I am not to go around destroying the reputation and relationships of others with my viewpoint. Any complaint I have must be addressed only with those I have the complaint against. Bringing other people into the situation only makes it worse, as we put the other party in a defensive position. When we do sit down with the other person, it is vital to come with a heart set to speak the truth in love, and to have ears attuned to hear their side of things.

Part of this “sitting before God” means considering the complaint on the other side, seeking God to reveal if there is any truth in their viewpoint, with willingness to make amends where needed. Now, I have been in situations where there is no truth in the complaint, only miscommunication and misunderstanding. In those instances, God instructs in ways of clarifying truth. When the other person continues to believe the lie, He instructs to entrust the one choosing to believe the lie to Him. He also frees us from the condemnation that is from demonic sources.

Seldom is there no fault of my own to deal with in a situation. If I am truly seeking God and honest with myself, He will show me my habits that lead to discord. Knowing the truth about my own bad habits that lead me to cause a relationship issue is vital to healing the current situation and to avoiding future encounters from the same type of harmful, inappropriate actions / reactions.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

True love requires truth within us. True love cannot exist in a lie. Truly loving others requires that we seek to know and understand truth about ourselves as well as about the situation and others involved. Next post concludes our study as we look at the love-walk that honors God as God in our fickle, fleshly, relationship issues.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

Wow. I thought I finished this series, and then God spoke again through another passage and added to my understanding of the factious, divisive spirit that grabs hold on us and leads us away from God’s Light and the peaceful unity found there. Beloved, in any divisive situation, it is never one-sided. There are always two sides, pulling away from each other, trying to win a battle.

In the previous 5 devotional thoughts we covered the following thought patterns that are found in the mindset of one ensnared by a factious spirit: 1) the desire for those they tell to agree with their position in their situation with another, thus causing the hearer to feel they must pick a side; 2) holding to a truth that is closed off to hearing the other side of the issue; 3) refusing to seek the whole truth as God sees it, missing out on the Light of God that leads to the peace of unity; thus 4) a factious mindset is snared by the old flesh, the old nature’s way of thinking and being.

There are factious people we are to stay away from completely. We are to avoid and stay away from people who continually lead us away from God and His ways, as in the false teachers spoken of in the Titus 3 passage and in the one we will begin looking at today. God condemns those who would deliberately lead us away from Him. However, if the enemy of God cannot lead us away from believing in and following after God, he will stir up strife between God’s followers in order to divide God’s people. In this way, that enemy of God weakens our effective service to God, separating us from Him in less obvious ways. This divisive spirit is the one I am addressing in these blogs. He tears apart the fellowship of family, friends, and fellow believers. Such division stems from failure to come under God’s light where we find full truth and unity, and it fails to love with God’s unconditional, incorruptible love, thus falling away from God as His image-bearers.

Why write on these things? God never leads me to write things without leading me to evaluate my own life and ways in the area He reveals to me. The things that speak to and help me personally are the things I write about. God desires us to evaluate ourselves truthfully now, so we may come into His likeness and avoid the judgment to come (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the writing of this series, I have had to look at myself in each area, and repent for my own failures.

The passage we start devouring today speaks clearly to me of my own habits I tend to fall to, causing and adding to division; and it warns me of others I must be alert to. AttitudeWe cannot change to be more like Him if we are unwilling to evaluate ourselves and come to stand in agreement with Him in the light of His word. When we refuse to see as He sees, acknowledge our own sin within, thus, continuing to walk in divisive ways, God says:

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Worldly-minded actions dictated by fleshly lusts flow from the life that, at least in that moment of divisiveness is devoid of Spirit. God showed me how, recently, I sought Him for direction in a situation, but when it came to implementation of the wisdom given, my flesh got in the way. In that instant, despite the Spirit’s warning, I went my own way, made a situation worse instead of better, becoming devoid of Spirit in that moment of surrender to the desires of my flesh-man. Shifting away from the Spirit to follow my flesh, I perverted the way of God before me, fell to my own sin nature, and stand self-condemned. Praise be to God, who disciplines me, bringing me back to Himself through His Word, by the Spirit and blood of Christ.

Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines His children, and that discipline proves our position with Him as His Kingdom People. God proves we are His when He does not allow us to get away with our fleshly, old-nature behavior. God’s discipline comes through His word that instructs us in righteousness.

As we continue this series on overcoming a factious spirit, we will look closely at this Jude passage touched on above. There we find an outline of potential characteristics found in a person given to being divisive; to which I cry:

“Ouch, Lord! Father, forgive me, a sinner apart from Your grace found in Christ. Set me free in Christ to be in His likeness so I do not give myself so readily to the lust of my flesh. In Jesus, amen.”

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Answering the question, what do we do about a person that we love when a factious mindset threatens the relationship? How can we reject a contentious, divisive fellowship without leaving the relationship? To answer that, I think of the things God taught me over many years of dealing with my sweet daddy.

In his later years, my daddy suffered depression and paranoia common to aging. He was hard of hearing and often misheard or misinterpreted things. That fed his paranoia, leading to discord with family members. His actions and attitudes became factious, as he freely shared his beliefs about “what people are doing to me”, based on his misunderstanding of truth. There was no consoling him, and no changing his mind about the things he believed. It was very difficult some days to be around him. But I love my daddy, who is now with the Lord, and through that time of dealing with him, God taught me another way to reject the factious fellowship.

  1. First, realize the truth of the person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. What is going on in their life that is wearing them down? What is going on that may have them constantly meditating on the false information, further feeding the falsehood? Put yourself in their shoes and get a little compassion flowing toward them.
  2. Try to speak truth to the situation if you know it, in an effort to console, impart wisdom, and give peace, with hope of correcting the misunderstanding. Point to God’s ability to reveal truth and heal the situation.
  3. If they will not be consoled, try to change the subject.
  4. If they keep returning to their complaint and you cannot get them off the subject, excuse yourself with promise to return another day.
  5. Do not participate in a lie that is feeding discord. We tend to want to let one sharing their contentions have their way and pretend to agree with them hoping they will go on to some other topic of discussion: I.e., saying, “Yeah, that was horrible for them to do that,” when we know the other person did not do the stated deed. That just gives fuel for a factious spirit to use in breeding more discord.

Dealing with people in my dad’s situation, where they truly do not realize what they are doing and the harm it is bringing to relationships can be difficult. Those who do not have a mental issue causing them to behave factiously can be even harder to cope with; but if you want to maintain relationship without taking part in the divisive misinformation, knowing when to leave the conversation and change the subject is crucial.

So is watching oneself to be sure you are not inadvertently adding to the problem by talking with others about the situation with your loved one, inadvertently participating in the battle with a factious spirit of your own. In another situation where a person would not believe I did not do the thing accused of, they shut me out of their life. In my own hurt, when people would ask me how that person was doing, I would respond, “I don’t know.” Dependent on who it was, I would tell why I did not know, “They believe I did something I did not do and have shut me out of their life.” Then one day God inspired my heart to quit telling people about the other person’s insult to my heart or talking about the problem. He instructed that in doing so, I was hurting their reputation and relationship with others, and the reliving of the account was keeping the scab ripped off my own wounds. Following God’s instruction freed me to work toward loving that person anyway.

In another situation, I thought the other party was hearing me incorrectly. Then I realized that I said just what they said I did. With that revelation, it was time for a very sincere and heart-felt apology, first to God, and then to them. God reveals the truth. When He does, we must be ready to deal with it appropriately so that healing and restoration can begin.

Beloved, in whatever situation you find yourself, seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with it. Find truth as God sees it. Realize people’s life situation and their tendency to return to old coping mechanisms when wounded. Give yourself that same courtesy, realizing that we learn coping mechanisms over time, and may be walking in old ways that fail to glorify God. Find the truth as God reveals it and walk in the fellowship of His light, learning new ways of coping and dealing with such trouble. Be a peacemaker where you can, shining the light on God and His word, coming into agreement with Him. And most importantly, remember, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” ~ 1 Peter 4:8, AMP.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may (God’s people) know it, too! …” Joshua 22:22, NLT (author’s translation).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 4

In any divisive situation, each person often acts and reacts out of their pain and woundedness. When that happens, we miss the full truth of the current situation, stray from the Light of God, and fall prey to a divisive, factious spirit that is out to steal, kill, and destroy our ability to live together in love, acceptance, and grace. Overcoming that enemy requires us to seek God and His ways. Coming into His Light, we are to seek understanding of truth, repent where needed, and give grace that restores fellowship. Too often, however, our flesh gets in the way of our victory in Christ:

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” ~ Romans 8:6-8 (read verses 1-8).

Another reason for a factious spirit getting a stronghold set up between us is our refusal to follow the dictates of the Spirit of God. When a factious mindset so gets ahold on us that we cannot, and will not reconcile with another – forgiving the insult, forgetting the injury and pain of it, and going forward in grace and love – we dishonor God. When we refuse to see the separation caused by our falling back to fleshly ways in a controversy, we follow the dictates of our flesh and, denying the work of God’s Spirit of Light, we refuse His direction for our paths.

If the Spirit of God shines a light on something within me that is causing my problem with a friend and I refuse to deal with it, I follow the dictates of the flesh and grieve the Spirit of God. If God reveals to me the truth of a friends situation that is causing them to behave in an unacceptable way, and I refuse to give them grace and show love in helping them wherever I can, I follow the dictates of the flesh and deny the leading of the Spirit.

“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward GOD.” When we refuse to follow the calling and direction given us by God’s Spirit, we stand against Him.

The verse in the first of our series on recognizing and dealing with a factious spirit said this:

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

This rebellion against God is, I believe, the reason God tells us to reject a factious person: reject their message, reject their ways and attitudes, and especially reject the dictates within one’s own flesh that leads us to respond inappropriately in a divisive encounter. A factious spirit leads us away from God, and indeed, stands hostile to Him. Participating in that puts us in opposition to God as well. We think we are in discord with another person, but when we refuse to follow the teaching of God as peacemakers, we stand against Him. The Amplified Classic version of this Titus 3:10 verse says this:

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Scripture warns us that bad company corrupts good morals. There are times when it is best to leave a relationship than continue on with one that constantly brings us to fall to our flesh. There are also times when we love and care for a person who is given to a factious nature or who has a mental or physical health issue that is causing them to be paranoid and given to complaining about others. We cannot “remove from fellowship” by leaving the relationship when it is a person we care for and those who are within our sphere of responsibility to look after, like my poor daddy who suffered with paranoia for many years. What are we to do then? There is a way to remove ourselves from such unhealthy fellowship without removing ourselves from the relationship. See you next post.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 3

Thus far, we covered that a factious spirit that gets hold of our mind and emotions is one that says, “I need someone to agree with me.” It is a spirit that fails and often refuses to open itself to seeking and finding the full truth of a situation. Defeating this tendency requires us to realize that the only one we need in agreement with us is God. He knows our hearts and if He does not convict or condemn us, then we stand righteous before Him.

Overcoming discord requires us to seek to understand our own thoughts and feelings, and to know that we stand pure of heart before God. Restoration requires us to seek to understand the thoughts and feelings of the others involved in the conflict. Today we discover that successful effort in this accomplishes the main work of a peacemaker.

Reading on from yesterday’s scripture:

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” ~ 1 John 1:5-7.

As I read this passage, God’s Spirit reminds me of something He recently inspired me to understand about the true role of a peacemaker. The number one characteristic of a peacemaker, in the way God intends it, is being a person who can walk in the light of truth, and help others do the same. These seek and find the truth of a situation, seek and find the truth of God’s will and way, and bringing all under that light, they seek to lead all parties to find the unity and fellowship we have in Christ and His truth. The true peacemaker seeks after and leads those around them to come to The Light, making amends wherever truth reveals the need, thus restoring fellowship with God first, and then with man.

1 John 2:7-11 says, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

Fleshly indulgences, worldly ways, and Satanic influence is darkness that seeks to separate us from God, His Light, and those we love, especially from other believers. When we set our minds and hearts on our own version of truth, refusing to seek to understand others and bring a situation into God’s Light, Satan attacks our minds and hearts with thoughts that feed our false understanding, giving approval to fleshly indulgence and worldly ways. He takes us ever deeper into his pit of despair and discord.

We cannot develop a true and lasting fellowship with others unless we are willing to comecomfort002 into God’s Light with them. When we sit together, with ears attuned to hear their heart, eyes focused on seeing their situation and need, and hands ready and willing to give that healing touch of love, we get to the heart of our issues. There we find that any problem between us is seldom a one-sided problem, and often we find the truth of it to be not what we thought it was.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” ~ Luke 6:36-37.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 2

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” ~ 1 John 1:1-4.

I love this passage of scripture. This is one of those passages of scripture that speaks my call in ministry, to write the truths God teaches me concerning Himself and His Word. It tells me to write what I hear, see, look at intently so-as-to know with true understanding, and the things I touch or am touched by in life that teach me about God and His truth: the Word of Life. The things we learn from all our senses, touched by God in life, we are to share with others, finding fellowship through the truth of God and His ways. This sharing and the unity it brings is joy made complete.

Today, however, this passage speaks to me concerning a second aspect of the factious spirit. Besides wanting someone to affirm their stance as right and good, the person under the influence of a factious spirit wants others to know their opinion of what truth is. Often fearing the other side is talking, they want their side known.

Here is the problem: when an argument ensues that hurts feelings, or that puts people on the spot, etc., truth is seldom on one side or the other of the controversy. It is somewhere between them. In a contentious encounter, we may see, hear, and feel ok, but when our emotions get involved, we misunderstand what we are looking at. That leads us to take action out of an emotional place where our understanding of what is truly happening becomes even more twisted by misinterpretation of what we see, hear and feel.

In any dispute, the factious spirit convinces each person involved that their understanding of the event and the feelings they felt are full and complete truth. There is nothing from the other side to understand in the pursuit of clarity. It says, “My truth is all right and theirs is all wrong.” For example, a person may interpret things they sense in an encounter with another as the other person being angry, when the fuel of discord is actually heartache over past false assumptions and a lack of trust toward the one making false assumptions. Issues cannot be resolved truthfully when dictated by false assumptions and failure to get to the heart of the problem.

In our focal passage, we see that the proclamation of truth known brings fellowship. However, the thing we must realize is that the truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is not the truth I think I know from the situation experienced. The truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is the one that seeks after God and the truth He sees. God sees the heart in all things and He can lead us to it.

Seeking God’s truth that brings fellowship requires us to sit down with one who has a complaint and understand their heart. It requires each party to be open to facing their own flaws. It requires each to practice grace toward the other, knowing we all are a work in progress, “CONTINUALLY being perfected until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). True and abiding fellowship requires a love for God and a love for one another that hates the division that works destruction, and that determines to find the truth that brings fellowship.

When we can make application of the Word of God to our life situations, sit down together, and work toward truth that brings fellowship, we honor God and participate with Him in bringing LIFE to our words. In seeking truth, we replace the factious heart and mind with the heart and mind of Christ.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 1

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

Factions form around controversy. It is human nature to pick a side and stand on it.

There are situations in which God calls His people to separate themselves from others. Jesus said in His prayer in John 17 that we are to be a people who, though we live in the world, we are not of its mindset and ways. There is to be a difference seen in us from that of the world around us. As Christians, God calls us to represent His interests, standing on His side of every issue. So, factions form because of sin that stands in opposition to God, but we are not to be a factious people. What is the difference? I believe it is a heart issue.

We have all had times when misunderstanding, hurt feelings, disagreement, etc., causes a problem between one and another. What, in such times, reveals a “factious man”? God is showing me a vital, defining characteristic of someone who is taking actions in a factious spirit or mindset. The realization God is leading me to causes me to evaluate my own reasons for mentioning a controversy to parties who are not part of the situation. We do it for affirmation, wanting others to approve us and disapprove the opposing side.

As people, we often need affirmation. Seeking affirmation from any but God, however innocently, can often lead to fractured relationships. The factious spirit begins by leading a person’s heart and mind to want others to tell them that they are right, and the other side is wrong. The problem is that, when we do that, we put the people we call on for affirmation in the position of feeling they have to pick a side. Only God truly knows all sides and only He can reveal the righteous stance.

When lack of peaceful relations and discord come, seldom are any fully standing with God in the controversy. Asking other people to tell us what only God can know places them in a position of possibly lying to us about what they truly think as they try to placate and pacify our need for affirmation. When they do take our side, we cause a breach in their relationship with the other party. Even if they don’t pick a side, it can still fracture their relationships with the parties involved as they try to avoid them so they are not dragged into the war.

God’s Word encourages us to seek sound counsel and to comfort one another. Sharing controversy with those goals as the heart of our desire is good. However, a teachable spirit must accompany our seeking of counsel and comfort: we must possess a heart to receive instruction, and walk in the sound counsel and comfort given. Also, we must take care that the person we share with is able to give the comfort and counsel without feeling they must choose a side in the controversy.

Today I present the subject matter, the factious spirit that seeks to separates friends and family, causing a breach that puts all in danger of a fall.  Over the next several posts, we will cover things God is revealing we must do to counter and protect against a factious stronghold coming between us in an ungodly way.

“But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls’” ~ Luke 11:17.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 7

“… You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Looking at the passage covered in yesterday’s devotional thought, I notice that those who abide in God, remaining with Him in Holy Habitation, can still have their lives touched by the consequences of the sins of others.

God told Moses that He knows him by name and that He finds favor in him, yet still, Moses, along with Joshua and others who did not follow the sin of the people, were to go into Canaan without God’s presence with them, just as those who sinned.

I know you have seen this truth for yourself, as I have. We can suffer hardship because of the sins of those near us. This fact is part of our participation in the suffering of Christ that God’s word warns us we will bear in this life (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus’ entire journey to the cross was because of sin not His own.

As people in Holy Habitation with God, it is vital when hardship comes that we get God’s perspective regarding its source and cause. If we find conviction of sin from Him, repent so-as-to remain with Him in righteousness. If it is not our sin revealed as the cause, hunker under His wings for His protective cover in that area of life. Also, realize that there is another truth seen in this discourse between God and Moses that we are to practice when a storm is not of our own making:

Those in Holy Habitation with God receive the consequences of a righteous life that is blessed by God, and that blessing can reach beyond us as grace toward those struggling in sin.

When God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel for their sin and begin anew with Moses, Moses jumped into the breech, begging for God’s mercy to save the people (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, as God threatens to remove His presence from their journey, Moses again steps into the breech to pray for mercy. God’s response to Moses translated into His doing good toward those who fell in sin, though they deserved the consequences of His holy discipline.

Holy habitation with God owns one’s own sin and seeks quickly the restoration of relationship with God. Holy habitation with God also realizes the effect our ability to commune with Him can have for the benefit of those we love. Realize, beloved, the heart of God toward you that longs to meet your every need, for yourself and for those you love and desire to see in Holy Habitation with Him.

“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” ~ vs. 14.

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to HOW YOU OUGHT TO WALK AND PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION; that is, that you ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY; that each of you KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honor, NOT IN LUSTFUL PASSION, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; And That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT THE GOD who gives His Holy Spirit to you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our day, even among those who belong to God. Adultery, fornication, incest, pornography, homosexuality, rape and molestation of innocence: all these are addressed in God’s Word as being against His will for us, and we see it all in our day, in ever increasing prevalence, even among the people of God. I believe all these perversions of God’s ideal way sicken the heart of God who calls us to sanctification that has a vital purpose.

The institution of marriage and the act of marriage, as God intended it to be, is a picture of what our relationship is supposed to be like with our Holy God. It is the giving of oneself fully to one person, able to so greatly trust that person that we can be “naked” – fully exposed before them. Such intimacy is not meant to be shared with any other than the one we are intended for, the one we are to spend our life with. In likeness to our relationship with the One True God, we are to be saved and kept for the one we are meant to be with for all time.

Even to look on another so as to lust after them, which is the business of pornography, is to sin against God and against His holy institution. Premarital experience and fleshly lust rob of experiencing God’s best for us in our relationships and it hinders our ability to trust each other, which is vital to true intimacy. I know this for a fact, not only because of what the Spirit has taught me in God’s word, but unfortunately because of personal experience.

I was sexually active in my youth, not having anyone to teach me these things. I married unwisely to get out of that lifestyle and that marriage ended in divorce. When God brought my husband into my life – and He did! He has made this clear to us in many ways through our years – I struggled over my past as I began to learn the truth of God’s ideal. It hindered our intimacy for a long time, until God healed me of the consequence of my sin, delivering me from the guilt and shame, and set me free indeed. It is my hope in sharing these things that I can spare some of you the pain and struggle.

The pre-marital impurity done by or to those still waiting for their mate-in-Christ is the commission of sin against our Holy God and that intended mate. It is also sin against one’s own flesh, and I am not just talking about STDs or out of wedlock pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the potential for pregnancy are just part of the consequences we can face. Sexual intimacy with another gets into the depths of our being. When we do find our mate, flashbacks of previous experiences can hit our hearts to bring us to shame. It can keep us from satisfaction with our mates and hinder our healing from that past.

With every act that is not sanctified and set apart in keeping self for one’s future partner, we do harm to these vital relationships as it affects our very personalities and expectations for marital relations. Needing to “practice” so we will be ready for our mate, knowing how to satisfy them, is a lie straight out of hell.

No two people are alike. What one likes and expects, another will abhor. If you “practice” with one and like certain things, then marry another who does not like those same things, you will be constantly dissatisfied with your mate, ill-equipped to satisfy them, and frequently tempted to go back to where your desires can be met. Sexual relations is one area where ignorance is bliss. If you come together in innocence and learn to please each other, you will be satisfied together. When you grow in your intimacy together, learn what each likes, and minister to each other’s needs, that very intimacy satiates desire and makes you one flesh together, protecting you from desire for another.

Realize, beloved one, that until a couple marries, they do not yet know that they will be married. Anything can happen to stop our plans for marriage between the proposal and the “I do”; so “we are getting married” is not a license to take to ourselves the privilege of marriage before we are legitimately wed together. TRUE LOVE WAITS! This false belief that “engaged” is the same as “married” has ruined the gift of purity for many young couples. From the instant of that first kiss of longing that makes one want to touch, all the way to the actual penetration, all of that act of intimacy is sex! It is a gift to be given on the wedding night, AFTER the “I do” is done. Scripturally, marriage does not begin until the parents give the bride to the groom and all human legalities that define marriage are fulfilled.

The next portion of our passage, “That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things” speaks to me of the insult we do to others through failing to possess our own vessels in sanctity for our marriage partner.

Defraud: to use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another. From the premarital encounter that destroys the gift of purity meant for another, to rape, sexual immorality done with another’s mate or against one’s own mate, any sin of immorality that is done by force against another ~ all of these are transgressions that defraud another. And all of these defraud God, for in that instant we insult the One who loves us most and rob Him of our wholehearted intimacy with Him as God and Lord.

If we are His child, such acts grieve and quench the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Since God is always with and for the believer, we cause pain to His Holy Presence, who is made to experience our sin by virtue of His intimate knowledge of us. Such acts do great harm to our relationship with Him. And it is an act of blasphemy, as it gives God’s name in us, “Christian”, a bad reputation.

I believe the “brother” in this statement toward those we defraud could be translated “brethren,” which would mean: our brothers and sisters in Christ; our family and those we are kin to; those of the same people group; any people whose lives are touched by our sin. Even the angels in heaven who are watching God’s people and the triune-God with whom we are one are adversely affected by our sin.

When we commit adultery, we sin not only with the person we partner with in the act, but we sin against their present or future mate, their children, and all who will be touched by the pain of the consequences brought about by the sin done and exposed to light. And what does it say? “The Lord is the avenger in all things.” So the consequences that come against us because of our sin come from the very hand of God. STDs that destroy our bodies; out of wedlock pregnancies that sideline our plans for the future; marriages ended because of hurt and lack of trust; these consequences and more are allowed by God because of our sin. HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT GOD.

Pray as God leads you today for yourself, those you love, and all God brings to your heart today. If you have committed these sins already, repent, stop what you are doing, get right with God and seek godly council to help you correctly deal with the sin done.

Pray for the body of Christ to be sanctified and set apart in purity, delivered from perversion, and to know how to possess their own body in obedience to the Father. It is better to be a eunuch by choice than to commit acts of such sin and face the wrath of our Holy God.

Jesus-Bride006If you are one who has been hurt by such sin, forgive for your own sake, so that you can be in right standing with God, able to get His perspective on the issue, and seek godly council to help you find healing and strength to carry on. Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger will hurt you! Do not hold on to these but seek the healing power of God to equip you to entrust these hurts to Him.

Whichever side of the insult you are on, beloved, whether the sinner or the one sinned against, God will heal you. He will enable you to love and to trust again as you seek His face and His grace, which is sufficient for ALL THINGS. And, as I can attest to, His healing can establish your ability to experience true intimacy with your mate, renewing the gift He intended you to give to each other alone.

The Stand ~ Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9BycuYe34CTDe-q9HZzszNs&index=4

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.

Is There Anyone God Cannot Save? NO!

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” ~ Romans 2:1.

The practice of homosexuality is a big controversy in our day as those who live that lifestyle make themselves known and push for their rights, and as people of “the church” speak out in opposition. Homosexuality is only one of many sins, grouped together as seen in those who refuse the will and way of God. It is named with adultery, fornication, gluttony, gossip, slander, and many others; and in more than one passage of scripture.

A Spark acquaintance put a goodie note on my SparkPeople.com page that truly disturbed me, because they said that God cannot save this particular people group because of their practice of the homosexual lifestyle, which is against God and His way. Do we have scriptural proof text that God stands against homosexuality? Yes. But He also stands against all sin that works as leaven to spread throughout society and lead many astray from the will of God. That does not mean that He cannot and will not save those snared by that sin.

All sin is that of refusing God as God in that area in which we struggle against Him in our life, failing to surrender to Him as our greatest treasure and desire. Can God save sinners such as us? To such a query, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).

There is only one sin that the Father will not forgive, and that is the sin of refusing the gift of His Son’s sacrifice at Calvary. Jesus paid the price of sin, all sin in all its flavors. The only sin that will win hell for us is the sin of refusing the Savior. But there is proof of the sincerity of our acceptance of His Salvation that is found in our ability to realize and turn from sin. Repentance is required, though we may struggle to surrender all our days. Paul struggled against the desires of his flesh, but his hope was in God for victory in Christ (Romans 7:1 – 8:1). He did not doubt his salvation because of the struggle, but he had hope because he trusted God.

Once God’s gift of grace is received, the Spirit comes to the life of the sinner and begins the work of transformation.Lean on02 That work progresses within the sincere believer, “continually perfecting them until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), when all who believe will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for their deeds. God will be working with us on our transformation until Jesus comes for us, when all will be brought to completion in the twinkle of an eye.

Before entering the eternal kingdom, our works will be tested as by fire. That which is as wood, hay and stubble will burn away. Only that which is as gold, silver and precious stones will pass through the gate. Some of us will get there with little to show for His glory, but we will get there, though smelling like smoke, not because of our works, but because of Christ’s work at Calvary (Ephesians 2:1-10).

All sin is sinful in God’s eyes, because sin, though it comes in many flavors, is sin because it goes against the grain of God’s will and way. Are there varying degrees of sin? Some say no, but Jesus told Pilot that the sin of those who turned Him over to Pilot was greater than the sin of Pilot’s participation as the judge, whose judgment was locked in by law. The defining character of sin is all that goes against or is contrary to God’s will and way, refusing to bow to Him as Lord and Master. It places us in a position of standing in opposition to Him. The homosexual is not seen as any worse than the adulterer. Both are against God’s way in the area of sexual sin. They each, who are so snared, likewise can be forgiven and brought to right standing in Christ.

Should the homosexual person, saved by grace, turn from their homosexuality? The Spirit-Teacher will bid them to turn from all that is contrary to God’s will and way, just as He bids me, convicting me of sin, righteousness and judgment. Some will break free. Others may have to take up the cross over and over again as they struggle against the will of the flesh, the world, and demons.

I have seen those snared by sin who, though sincerely saved by grace, struggle with that sin all their days. I am one who daily has to fight my fleshly desire to eat in ways that are harmful to the temple of God, my body; that is just one of the many things I have to watch against. That sounds simplistic compared to the headlines the homosexual lifestyle is getting, but my bad habits in my diet still stand against the will of God every time I deny Him as God in order to partake in my fleshly desire. Am I lost and going to hell because I struggle to surrender all to God? No, because I do struggle just as Paul did, trusting God to win the battle. Those whose faith in God through Christ is real and sincere and the fruit of the Spirit is real and growing even as they struggle are still saved by grace through faith even as they fight the good fight of faith (Hebrews 12:1-12).

CrossDaily05Throughout scripture we see the apostles pleading with those who are sincerely secure in Christ, yet continue to struggle with the nature of sin in the earth. We are called over and over in scripture, in various ways, to take up our cross daily by dying to fleshly desires in order to follow Christ’s example (Luke 9:23). It is something we have to strive toward every day. Some days we fly and others we falter, but we keep pressing forward to grasp the ring at the finish line (Philippians 3:7-16). And when we stand before that throne for the judging of the righteous in Christ, we are assured in scripture that Jesus will be by our side as Advocate. Our sin is not what He will point God to as He stands as Advocate, but our clothing of righteousness in Christ is what God’s eyes will rest upon.

Yes, there will be no homosexuals, or adulterers, or gossips, or slanders or gluttonous-sweet-aholics or…in heaven, for that will all be burned away as wood, hay and stubble, and all that will remain is Christ in us, our hope of glory and our Eternal Righteousness.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” ~ John 14:6.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~ John 11:25-26.

The Importance of Circumcision

As I meditate on the last two memory verses in the pre-retreat study for the Women’s retreat I leave on tomorrow, trying to digest them more fully, the nurse in me begins to consider the “foreskin” and the reasons for it being so important that we circumcise ourselves to the Lord by deliberately removing the foreskin of the heart;  and why it is vital that He be the lead surgeon in that circumcision for us and our descendants. Here is what I find:

  1. The foreskin is folds of flesh whose sole purpose is to hide the true organ: it is a façade.
  2. These folds of flesh are difficult to keep clean, thus making them excellent breeding ground for filth, bacteria, and disease.
  3. This fold of flesh can refuse to retract, keeping the true organ hidden, hindering proper function, which can cause pain and further disease. Or…
  4. This fold of flesh can either get stuck in a retracted position or left improperly circumcised leaving a ring of flesh around the organ, thus restricting and cutting off proper blood flow, causing the true organ to swell, develop gangrene, and if not properly treated, bringing death to the true organ.
  5. Once gangrenous death sets in, if the organ is not cut away completely from the rest of the body, it causes sepsis to seep out to the body.
  6. Sepsis untreated brings death to the entire organism: of which the church is a living organism.

Therefore, beloved, make sure that you “…Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart…” by cooperating fully as God the Father and our Great Physician works to “circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live” ~ Jeremiah 4:3b-4a, Deuteronomy 30:6.

True, Agapé Love Leaves No Scars

“ Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” ~ 1 Peter 1:22-23.

The thought that hits me as I read this passage is that we too often do things that are harmful to those we say we love; and according to my understanding of our love-walk through Christ, that fact proves the lack of our maturity and lack of full understanding of the way of love that God desires and destined us to have for one another.

True, Agapé love leaves no ungodly scars on those we profess to love. True Agapé love always does what is best for those we love, for true Agapé love does no harm. In fact, scripture says that “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” ~ Romans 13:10.

For, “‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” ~ 1 Peter 1:24-25.

Learning to love, as God desires and designed us to, is vitally important because life is too short. Whether separated by death or the death of relationship due to sin’s destruction, life is too short to waste even a moment on anything less than to love one another from the heart. Leaving people scarred and marred by our sin against them brings difficulty to life that makes their usefulness to God – and ours – more difficult as all struggle to heal from sin’s wake. And one sin can lead to another as protective lines come up to separate us from one another. The solution?

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” ~ 1 Peter 2:1-3.

True repentance and turning from our sin is vital to restoration of relationships. Repenting our failure to truly love those around us is to practice the law of James 4:8-10: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

God can and will restore our stance in life if we, in sincerity, repent with mourning humility the sin we committed because we failed to love those God blessed us to have in our lives, especially repenting our failure to truly love. True repentance focuses on one’s own part in the sin. When talking about drawing near to God, it does not matter what was done against “me”. If I want right relations with God that leads to some degree of restoration with others, all that matters is that I repent my part and leave what others did to God, for Him to deal with them.

One reason our focus must be on our personal sin, not counting the sins of others before Him, as a tattletale trying to make one’s sin more palatable, is another thing we must realize with repentance. Besides repenting being a tattletale, trying to take a little of the heat off our own sin, when our failure to truly love commits sin against another, leading to them stumbling in their love walk, we must repent of being a stumbling block to them because of our failed love for them.

When we can truthfully proclaim “Have mercy on me, a sinner,” without pointing to the splinters in the lives of those we sinned against, then we are truly practicing 1 Corinthians 13 love.

“…Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….”

And as I reread that Corinthians passage, I see a new-to-me meaning of the phrase “…does not take into account a wrong suffered….” I’ve always heard that taught to say that we are not to add up sins as in a tally, constantly bringing up the past in our present discord. But as I read that in light of the turn this writing has taken, I see that we are not to take into account a wrong suffered as if it makes our sin somehow more palatable, saying, “It is okay that I sinned as I did what I did because of what they did.” Taking into account what someone else did to us and using it as excuse for us to sin, then saying, like Adam did, “She made me do it,” is not repentance. It is blame game.

Teacher-TestTrue love repents of “my” sin without bringing up theirs. When we reach a love walk that not only repents of what we did without bringing up what was done to us, but more so we practice a love that chooses to not sin against those we love, no matter what they do to us, that is maturity in our love walk that will take us far in life.

True love says, “I love you, therefore I will do right by you no matter what you do to me; and if I do sin against you, showing the smallness of my love for you, I will accept responsibility for what I did without numbering your sins against me as excuse.”

How is your love walk, beloved? Do business with God today, and let’s press forward to live out for all to see the abiding Agapé that God gives to us and calls on us to give in His name, as representing Him.

Forgiving God’s Way (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday we looked at our call to forgive as God forgives, in accord with His seventy-times-seven principle. Today we seek to answer the question, “How do we do that?” I believe God long ago taught me a very important principle that must be practiced by choice if we are to achieve the 70 X 7 goal of grace.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” Isaiah 43:25.

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Forgiving God’s Way (Part 1 of 2)

Reminder of the need to practice the things God has taught me about forgiveness is constantly cropping up, in my own life and in the lives of people I know. So a reblog seems in order. Part 2 tomorrow.

Darlene's Ponderings

 “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22, NASB).

 Peter asked Jesus this question about forgiveness, quoting the number of times required by the religious law of the day as the number of times to forgive. They took that number literally to mean that after seven times, they were free to hold unforgiveness even if the person was sincere in their repentance.

Jesus’ answer seems to up the number greatly to seventy times seven. But what exactly does that mean? Is it just a bigger number that we can count? If it is just a bigger number that we can count out, what of the teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 where it…

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Caught in the Wake: Part 3

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Walking on water04How do we recoup when the storm of the sea of life around us is not made by us alone, and despite our cooperation in walking with Jesus, the storm still rages? How do we press forward to calm waters anew when we cannot control the stones tumbling in from the unclean hands of others around us to cause the wake that threatens us with every growing wave? Here in our passage we have two vital ingredients to calm the raging seas: James 4:8b-12.

“Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ Vs. 8b-10.

As said in the previous post, part 2 of this series, we can only control ourselves and the stones we are adding to cause the wake. So peaceful waters begin as we watch ourselves, remembering that we are not infallible; for apart from cooperation with the work of Christ in us, we too are sinners. We must set our minds to clean hands, which require us to seek pure hearts in agreement with the holiness of God. We accomplish this by being “miserable and mourn and weep” over our own sin, letting “your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom” by way of repentance that is truly saddened by sin, however pleasurable it may seem. Thus we “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord” trusting that by His grace, “He will exalt you.”

You and I, who know God through Jesus Christ, are to be holy as He is holy despite sin’s surge all around us.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” ~ 1 Peter 1:14-16.

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:17.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” ~ Romans 12:1.

Remembering that we are made to be and live holy lives as the living temple of God, housing His Spirit as seal of our unity with Him; the practice of holiness is vital to our ability to walk the stormy seas and experience the calm that is found when we walk hand in hand with Jesus. Actively being alert to every opportunity to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, is the step by step path to crossing storm tossed seas that are out of our control.

Note, in our James 4 passage, vs. 8b-10 above the call to “purify your hearts, you double-minded.” I believe that wording is vital to our understanding as we seek to walk with clean hands that cast no stone of sin into the water. Our thinking can cause all sorts of trouble for our hearts. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The will of God for whom? For each individual of us. You and I can only choose for self to align our wills with God’s will. So we must seek the thoughts and will of God as we relate with others who stir the waters, responding to each challenge as pleases Him so we do not add our stones of sin to the wake of the stormy seas.

The way we allow ourselves to think and feel toward others who are troubling our waters will drop stones that soil our hands. We must remember, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” ~ Romans 12:3. Our minds are transformed from the blame game the world plays as we remember from whence our grace comes, and choose to have sound judgment that does not think more highly of self than we ought, but that has God’s grace toward those still struggling with sin.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” ~ Colossians 3:12-13.

And “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

It is vital, especially when we are coming out of hurt that has caused us to stumble, that we leave the judgment / condemnation of those whose sin sends trouble to stir the seas of life around us to God. If we fail to practice grace and leave vengeance to God in dealing with those who hurt us and make trouble for us in this life, we enter into bitterness, and anger, and all sorts of depression and oppression that will bring destruction to our bodies and add to the wake of sin we are in.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coalsl109149486 on his head.’ DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” ~ Romans 12:9-21.

This is the prescription for persevering and walking free of the storm tossed seas around us: Forgive self and walk in the righteous path of God that is set before you; forgive those around us and deal with them righteously, trusting God to pass judgment and send the consequences for sin righteously. This prescription taken daily as we deal with those who trouble the waters, we can not only see our own hands cleansed and our heart purified as our minds are transformed to love with God’s love, but we can help those with us on the seas to grab the hand of Him who can cause us to walk upon the waters. And the next thing we know, the waters around us are calmed, though the outskirts of the sea still be tossed and turned.

(Recommended reading: Good read when caught in the wake of sin and working your way out is The Practice of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.)

Who De Judge?

Read John 3:16-21

The judgment of God can be confusing. Why does Jesus say He did not come to judge the world, while in other passages saying He does judge? Why is God the Father the Judge, and yet He has left all judgment to Jesus? Why are we told to not pass judgment, while in another Breath of His Word we are told to judge righteously? I don’t know if I can help make sense of it, but this passage calls me to try. Thus we will break it down and talk it through.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. …” (vs. 16-18).

Jesus IS the Word of God, incarnate, living, and active. He somehow, fully understood by God alone, is the power through which God spoke all into existence. He is the Messenger, I believe the One called the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament who delivered God’s message to man pre-Christ, and now anew as Christ. He is the Word lived out fully before us as an example to us for life more abundant and full. He spoke only as God instructed Him, so every Word given is God breathed through Him from beginning of days to their end. The Word of God is the judgment of God already passed, by which we are already judged.

Jesus is the Word of God come to live as an example and die as propitiation; thus He says rightly that judgment is already passed through Him who is the incarnation of the very Word of God so that those who believe are already judged as righteous in and through receiving His gift of sacrifice and following Him; and those who deny Him are already judged guilty as they refuse the gift of God in Christ and the Lordship He has bought as the living Word of God to direct our life. (John 1:14; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Luke 4:32; John 6:68; 1 John 1:1-5; John 18:37; John 5:30; John 8:28; John 12:48-50; Romans 2)

Thus Jesus did not need to judge the world, because the world is already judged by the Word. The Word is God and is in perfect alignment with all God is and desires. Anything standing in opposition to His Word, stands against Him and is judged guilty. Any in agreement with the Word stand with God and are adjudged righteous through Christ. So Jesus was not sent to judge, because judgment is already defined and passed. But when He is required to pronounce judgment, He does so as the Word of God, expressing the dictates of God that are already set.

We are told to not pass judgment as our right to do so, for in such an attitude we too often judge according to our own ideology of right and wrong. Thus, in doing so, we set ourselves up as a god in His place. He has already judged, and His word is His judgment, set in place to show us how to live in righteousness.

Another reason we are told not to judge is because we too easily look at the external without thought of the internal or the underlying issue of the heart. Only God knows the true intent of the heart of every man, and only He can justly and by right pronounce judgment and pass sentence.

However we are called to righteous judgment. This can only be achieved when we first judge ourselves against the Standard of God’s word and make sure we are in right relationship with Him. We can only fully judge self, with God’s help, as He reveals to us the true intent found in our heart. This is because the heart of our flesh is deceptive and we too easily fool ourselves.

We see this principle as Jesus kneels down to scribble in the dirt, then stands to tell a crowd, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, all dropped their rock and turned to walk away. Jesus knew their desire to stone the woman caught in sin was unrighteous on several plains of thoughts: one – they only brought the woman, leaving the man behind as if he had no part in the sin. The law they were partially following says to bring “them” out for stoning who are caught in adultery, not “her”. Two – He also knew that the heart desire of those leading the unruly crowd was to test Him to see if they could catch Him in sin. I have no doubt that a wrong response from Jesus, and the stones would have been aimed His way. And three – these were forgetting rule one, righteously judge yourself and remove the plank from your own eye so you can see to help another with their splinter. Many in the crowd were more deserving of stoning than our adulterous young woman. Many probably just had yet to be caught. (Read John 8)

We are to judge others only in accord with God’s Word as we can physically see them standing in disagreement to It; and then only as we ourselves are walking in agreement with that area of life in Him. I know someone has committed the sin of stealing when I see them steal, I judge them guilty of stealing because God’s word ordains, “Thou shalt not steal.” And I can rightly address that issue with the person when I do so realizing it is God’s judgment based on His word, and I stand before Him in the cover of His grace, doing the best we can to walk with Him in agreement with His Word, will and way. None are perfect in flesh yet; we are perfected in Christ and we are continually being perfected. So righteous judgment can only be done when we do all we can know to do to be in right standing with God, and as we have a heart attitude that we, too, are but flesh apart from Christ.

“…This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (vs. 19-21).

As we consider the heart issues involved, only God can fully comprehend the intent of the heart of any man. Only He can reveal that intent. And only He can divvy out righteous justice or decide for grace. Our righteous judgment toward self or any other can only truly happen as we realize these things and seek the heart of God to know the truth and follow His will in passing judgment. Because of this, people will either love the Word of God, and run hard to practice it, or they will hate it.

People who hate the word of God most often do so because it is His light to reveal to us our own hearts, whether we stand righteous or guilty. They avoid it for fear that they will have to change their ways, being unwilling to do so. And they don’t like feeling their guilt, so they baulk at His word and our pronouncements of His judgment.

Those who love the Word love it because they realize that it teaches them Christlikeness that restores the image of God to our hearts. Jesus gives us His Spirit to help us choose to love the Word and to instruct our understanding, granting power to follow through with its dictates. Thus we must choose to believe His life, example, and sacrifice, taking it fully to heart and making it our own, so that we may be saved unto eternity and live a life after God’s own heart.

The Work of Light

“Do not despair when you see darkness and godlessness all around you, for I tell you honestly that the deeper and more profound the darkness, the more prevalent your light. Shine on!” [From Small Straws in a Soft Wind by Marsha Burns (11/19/12)]

As I read this thought this morning, it dawned on me, what does light do except reveal the things hidden in the dark. The closer we are to God, the stronger His light will be both in and through us. Don’t be discouraged when you realize the godless places in and around you. That only means that Light is doing its job. If the godlessness revealed is within you, clean the house. If it is around you, ask the Lord what you are to do with regard to the things revealed. Do as He instructs and press forward in faith, realizing that God is on His throne and you are in His hands. Godlessness has no victory where Light resides.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

http://spiritlessons.com/Documents/Jesus_Pictures/Jesus_Christ_Pictures.htm

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 6

Delighting in the Light of Love

“…Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It (the Light) or in him (the person in the Light) there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin. But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:7-11).

This one is difficult for me to write as it brings thought of our beloved ex-son-in-law, one we loved and trusted for over 9 years, but who did sin against our grandbabies, breaking our hearts and the trust given. So, I decided just to share with you the struggle and see where it leads us in understanding this part of our suffering with Christ.

How do I express to you the love we are to have for one another when a deep wounded-ness exists in my own family due to the unbelievably evil hurt done us by one we loved so much and called not only “brother” in Christ, but “son” / “husband” / “daddy”? How do I tell you to love one another when such things work hindrance in our love walk together, knowing most all of us have such hurts in this life?

Is it love that was shown us by the one who did the evil? Is it love for us that would expect us to continue on as if nothing evil happened; as if no deep wound exists? Is it unforgiveness when hurt and inability to fully trust exists to hinder love’s expression despite there being forgiveness? Maybe, in discovering love in difficult situations, we should begin by looking at what hate looks like. Do I hate this one I love?

According to our passage for today in the Amplified version of scripture, hate is to detest or despise another.

Do I detest this one I love? Detest: to dislike. No. He is one of the most likable people I know even now. As I told my husband, it hurts more that he is still just who he is, the one we like and enjoy being with; he is very likable and I still like him. But I hate the evil done and the things that sound like excuses because of some hurt of his own that he says led him back to the lifestyle that led to the sin against God and us. I hate the evil, not the man. And I hate the excuses that still seem to remain in his apologies. I know he knows there is no excuse. But I still hear the excuse come out of him as if the harm done him gives right to him for his sin. I do not detest him. I ache over him with a hurt that is deep and can only be healed by the God I love.

Do I despise Him? Despise: To regard with contempt or scorn; To dislike intensely; loathe; To regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern. No, none of this is true about my thoughts and feelings toward him. Again, I find the evil done contemptible. But I do not scorn him over it, though I do not desire him to have access to those he did harm toward; and though I do not see our relationship ever being what it once was; though I must qualify that with understanding that nothing shall be impossible with God.

For God’s sake, my own sake, and for the sake of my grandkids, there is still potential for a relationship of love and even respect, but I do not see that relationship ever being what it once was, though it can in many ways be better as he turns from his sin and allows God to use him in helping others who struggle as he does / did; and as we get past the hurt to leave pain behind and walk in love restored by God’s love through us.

Is there contempt there toward him? Contempt: The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn; The state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace. Inferior—all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes me. No, I am not better than he is. Base—the lowest of the low he is not; the sin was low as it did harm to children, but he is not debased to me. He is a sinner set free as he stands sincerely repentant before his Holy God, just as I am. Is he worthless? “For God so loved…that He gave His only begotten Son….” No. Despite his fall to sin, I believe that he is repentant before our holy God who died for us all.

Do I want harm toward him? Am I pleased that he might wind up in prison? No. I hate that for him. But he is faced with the potential charges that can be brought up on him because of his sin and the consequences that come to such. His future is in the hands of God and of the governing officials set over us by God. So I wait to see what God will do, and I pray that God, who knows the truth of the heart of this son, will have mercy according to the truth He finds there.

So in this day and age, when hurting people hurt people, how do we love one another despite hurt toward each other? How is God leading me to continue to love this one despite the hate of the sin done toward our family by him and the lack of trust that exists, and despite the brokenness it brought to us as a family?

For one, I choose to leave his consequences in the hands of God. We have severed relationship as it was because of the divorce that came. Now we can debate the “sin” of that, but for the kids’ sake, that is the path that was decided on, and I have no regrets there, though I hate all the sin that led to that decision.

Despite the change in the relationship, I still work to maintain what relationship we can have, again for God’s sake as a Christian called to continue in love, for my own sake so no hindrance come to my relationship with God and others involved, and for the kids’ sakes as they need the example of forgiveness and those who are his blood need to know their daddy is still loved. But also for his sake, so discouragement over the situation does not do more harm than good. I want to build him up and help him find a renewed relationship with God through repentance and restoration. So relationship, though different, remains important and something to work toward making it the best it can be under the circumstances; and hopefully, in the long run, a better, stronger love that will do no harm to the one loved.

Out of love for him that flows from love for God and desire to please Him, I choose to treat this son right, not acting unbecomingly toward him. Now hurt over the situation still rises up in me to show on my face, but he is coming to understand that is what it is; and this too shall pass. So I seek to act becomingly in my love toward him.

To treat one in ways that are not unbecoming means to behave toward him “in accord with the standards implied by one’s character or position.” I will behave toward him in Christlikeness, forgiving him, not throwing the insult in his face as keeping it in an account for constant use against him. As difficult as it can be because of the hurt that things are not as they once appeared to be, there is a caring, respect, and love-walk to have in a relationship as Christian Brother and Sister. We just have to find that place where hurt over the harm does not rule, and we need to live there together in unity of purpose.

To continue in love, each of us has to learn how to recognize and show care about the need of the other. Love does not stop over a wrong suffered. As much as it hurts, love is still there. Loves focus in such situations makes an adjustment that may well look way different from what it once was, and may even be better than it once was, because it is totally dependent on God. “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5, AMP). So was the divorce done out of hate or resentment? No. Divorce was the choice because of love for the little ones who needed to feel safe and not to have to face this man every day of their life.

Hate is easy for us because the flesh runs swiftly to that which feels like it hurts less. It would be so easy to quit trying to find the way of love in our new family dynamic. It would prevent the pain of having to face the hurt and deal with it if we could just ignore each other and go on as if the other did not exist. But that is total, polar opposite to God and His way. He is a God of relationship, going out of His way to make a way for love to exist and continue, even giving His life for the sake of those loved. Love, each truly loving the other in all the ways of God, is the only true healing. It may seem easier and less painful to hate, but that is a lie. Hate destroys from the inside out, like gangrene. So hate is not an option for the Spirit filled Christian who desires right relationship with God.

God is love. If He is truly in us, we too must be love. Love overcomes hate, heals hurts, and restores lives. Like with furniture, the restored piece may look different, but it will still be what it is meant to be with usefulness as such; in this case, the relationship of brothers and sisters in Christ, loving with His love, His way, even to our own hurt.

In this day and age, when there is so much hurt and difficulty in life, we need one another. We need to love each other the best way possible for the sake of relationship with God, healing for self, and our ability to help one another. Relationship takes work and is not always easy. But through God and in His way we can truly and fully love one another, despite hurt and heartache. It is worth the trouble to love, even loving when those we love are made to appear unlovable.

Thank God who set the example, choosing rather than to give up on relationship, to love the unlovable in me through the gift of His Son on my behalf and yours. If He can do that for me, who am I to quit trying to love for His sake, my sake, and yours?

When we learn to love one another even when hurt by each other, we enter the delight of His love, becoming love as He is love; and that love is incorruptible, able to keep the Law toward each other.

~*~

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love” (Ephesians 6:24).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 4

Rejoicing in Freedom

“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].

“My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 1:8-2:2, AMP).

~*~

Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we make the Father known to the world, continuing that work of Christ in our age. Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, we are not only tasked with continuing the work of Christ in building the church, but we are tasked with His work of unifying the body of Christ. Now we add that together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we spread the gospel message. In this work, I see several things that we are tasked with in our day.

First is cooperating with the Spirit in making distinction between sin and righteousness and the judgment (or consequences) that comes to each.

In our day, truth is too often seen as relative. Each person can decide for themselves what truth is, and therefore what is wrong and what is right as dictated by circumstance, according to their value system. To the world there is no absolute right or wrong and therefore, no absolute truth. But God has a different opinion and we are tasked with finding, portraying, and promoting His truth that makes sin as He sees it clear to the observer.

This responsibility in completing Christ’s afflictions includes being humble enough to admit our own sin nature, and surrendered to Him in not only turning from our own sin, but in allowing Him to use our experience of His grace as witness of His work in our lives to those who struggle as we do.

Our Minister of Evangelism at our church shared a visit they had with a young girl who said she never sins. Everything they suggested as a possibility, she said she never did. Her mother agreed that she was just a good kid. But this passage proves her sin, for those who refuse to recognize they are a sinner in need of a Savior call God a liar.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we just don’t always recognize our sin for His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways higher than our ways. Our sin may be so subtle that we do not realize it is sin, but it is there.

This is our task, to help others realize that we cannot be all that God desires and designed us to be in the limits of our fleshly nature, no matter how “good” we seem to the world’s ways. Thus we fall short of His glory and prove ourselves to be sinners in need of a Savior.

Second we are tasked with the gospel message: sharing with all who will hear that Christ chose to give His life as atoning sacrifice for all sin. The sin of the entire world is covered by His victory as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for all. That victory belongs to God alone. But it is passed on to all who will receive the work of the Spirit in imparting His freedom from sin and death to us who choose to believe by faith and surrender by grace.

Third, we are tasked with the responsibility to help people grow strong in faith and in the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to make disciples, students of Christ and the ways of God, of all who believe. Only as we begin to grow in the knowledge of the intricacies of the nature of God can we recognize deep underlying roots of sin that we would otherwise be unaware of possessing.

Fourth, we are tasked with the privilege of helping all who trust in Him to come into the assurance of His victory, gifted to them.

Though we are saved by grace through faith, made whole eternally in Christ, we are here and now a work in progress. Each of us, too often get caught off guard and stumble into sin’s traps. The enemy can defeat us through a spirit of condemnation if we are not walking in the assurance that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, who forever lives to intercede on our behalf. In the power of the Spirit, Father and Son “[continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” We are tasked with helping the elect come into this assurance of faith in His finished work, and trust His continuous work in us as He leads us from sins grip and increasing degrees of glory as we surrender all to Him.

Working together with God’s Spirit in making sin and righteousness and judgment clear, rejoicing over one another comes to us. We become one another’s testimony of the work of God through us in encouraging and helping one another grow strong in faith and in assurance through Christ that we have died to sin and death and are raised to life in Him. Anyone who has children or other loved ones they have prayed long over and poured themselves out to in hope of seeing them grow in the Lord knows the joy of watching their faith and obedience blossom strong.

As I sought God in where to go with this portion of our study, He led me to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. The Amplified version of this passage seems a fitting close to this thought as it illustrates these points:

“Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].  In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ (the Messiah) was so confirmed and established and made sure in you that you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [constantly living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

May we all be busy about the Father’s business, bearing witness of the Gospel message, and know the joy of seeing those we love come into their own strong and growing freedom from sin and assurance in Christ.

Grace Defined #5 – an annonym: The Idol Lie

“LABORING TOGETHER [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose]” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

I have a very dear friend that I love greatly, who, in a season of trouble, was going through a very difficult time of life. I wanted so to be there for her and walk with her to its conclusion, but she turned to fleshly things and began running in ways contrary to God’s ways. Sitting with her, trying to encourage her to trust the Lord and stay close to His ways, she quickly informed me, “God understands that I am but flesh, and He will forgive me.” Is that truth? Yes. But is it truly applied? No.

My friend continued on her path, and God instructed my heart, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). I was not allowed to walk with her in her season of trouble as she walked quickly into the consequences of her sin.

This morning, as I visited with the Lord, He led me to see that the philosophy spoken of by my friend is a lie about grace. That lie is used of Satan to set up a type of God’s grace as a false idol in the lives of those who would be God’s people, and it works to defeat them because they do not fully know, understand and acknowledge the truth of who God is in all His fullness when they practice that idolic grace. In leading me to understand this truth, God took me to some Old Testament passages.

“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand’” (Isaiah 1:2-3).

So what is it that we must know and understand if we are to avoid falling to this idol lie?

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-26).

Four things we must know about God in order for Him to protect us from falling to this idol lie about His grace:

FIRST, God is LORD. If we truly know His grace, we must not only call Him LORD, but walk in ways that reveal His Lordship in our lives. That walk in His Lordship comes day by day, in good times and in bad. The practice of that Lordship is what brings us into the obedience of Christ, who says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, NASB). What does it mean to take up ones cross?

I have many times heard people say of some illness, “It is my cross to bear,” but is that what Christ is speaking of here? No. That may be their thorn in the flesh, but it is not a cross. When I hear of bearing a cross and think of choosing to pick it up, I think of the example of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, facing His own cross, Jesus cries out, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB).

Our pastor pointed out the other day that this cup Christ speaks of is not that of taking up the cross. The cup was bearing the sin that would bring separation from the Father. Jesus never once in His life of ministry had to face anything without God’s presence. He knew that taking up the cup meant separation from the Father in the moment of His bearing our sin. For us, to take up our cross, we must lay down the cup that separates us from God.

In every situation where we are caused to cry out, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done,” as we press forward in obedience to His will and way, we lay down the cup of separation to take up our cross and follow Christ in His example of obedience to God. Thus, through obedience to God’s will in every circumstance, we successfully remember His Lordship so as to walk in His grace, trusting His power to perform the requirements of the path God sets before us.

SECOND, God practices lovingkindness toward us: God is love and He always acts toward us out of that love, giving grace as unmerited favor and spiritual blessing in His lovingkindness toward us. That is the part of His grace that covers us through Christ-crucified, bringing us into salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

But the truth of that Ephesians passage continues on in verse 10 to say, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

God expects that His work of grace in us will bring us to be the living image of God revealed to us through Christ’s earthly ministry. When we receive His gift of grace through Christ with thought that we can go on our merry way and do what we want without fear of eternities death, we walk quickly out from under that cover of His lovingkindness in Christ to this idolic grace that deceives us. In so doing, we commit the sin Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 3:1-8:

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, HOLDING TO A FORM OF GODLINESS, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE DENIED ITS POWER; avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

True knowledge of God’s grace brings with it the power to overcome evil and perform the good works of God. When we deny that power, we believe a lie about grace and set it up as an idol we bow to as if we have no call or responsibility to live righteously in the earth. When we walk away from God in this way, we quickly find the next characteristic of God for ourselves, for love always does what is best for the one loved, in order to bring them to good and glory. But some choose to learn the hard way the next truth about God’s character.

THIRD, God is just and He delves out justice to those who sin against Him.

Now that sounds horrible, and it is for the one who is not truly in Christ, for they are doomed to an eternity without God. When I see people walking in this false-belief my friend has about God’s grace, I have to wonder if they truly know His salvation, for scripture teaches that the tree is known by the fruit it bears, whether good or evil (Matthew 7:15-23).

For those who are truly in Christ, yes, we have a tendency to fall to the flesh from time to time, but sin is not a habit we willing run toward. What does scripture say to assure our hearts of God’s grace to work in our lives when we as His true children do sin?

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:7-11).

This brings us to our FOURTH truth about God: God is righteous. For those who are true sons, understanding the power of grace as well as its favor, He disciplines us as sons in order to develop His righteousness and holiness in us. What is “discipline”?

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul, teaching Timothy about God’s way of training His children says the following, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (vs. 12-17).

Thus, the true child of God is trained by God through the teaching of His word that they may know truth, through reproof that points out sin’s stain, through correction of wrong doing and believing, and through training in righteousness, thus equipping the true child for good works.

 Jeremiah 9 ends with the following:

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised…for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.’”

God works in us as sons to circumcise our hearts, removing from us the flesh-man and making us new creations in Christ, image bearers who are wholehearted toward God. As He removes the flesh from our hearts, He establishes us to be Spirit led, seeking Him first in all things, trusting His power to work in us the glory of God’s grace, sufficient for every need even in difficult times. That work of His Spirit changes us from glory to glory, making us to be more like Him day by day, perfecting us until the day of Christ’s return. For those who truly know and surrender to God, they do not deliberately and rebelliously walk away from God and test Him by taking advantage of His grace in ungodly dissipation. Instead, we long for Him, to be clothed in His righteousness, thus we are quick to repent and remain in fellowship with Him in Christ.

Am I better than my friend who fell to sins grip? No. Scripture warns, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

It is dangerous to think too highly of self, for “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” as the old testament King James passage says (Proverbs 16:18). But what does God’s word promise in the 13th verse of 1 Corinthians 10?

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

What is the way of escape? Grace in all its power! We can trust God to empower us to walk in the victory of His grace: unmerited favor and spiritual blessing with power to both overcome evil and perform what is good.

Is my friend beyond help? How about your loved ones who walk in this falsehood? No. Grace can minister healing to her still, and when grace moves in to do so, I am here. “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:6-7, NASB).

God would not let me walk with her into destruction, but He has me ready, willing and able to walk with her as His hand of grace and love brings healing from sin. Before I can, there must be proof of sincere repentance and understanding of these truths of grace, otherwise the crushing pain of watching helplessly as she falls again will be the experience, for those who set grace up as an idol constantly fall away to follow the flesh of their heart.

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (1 Peter 3:14-18, NASB).

Forgiving God’s Way (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday we looked at our call to forgive as God forgives, in accord with His seventy-times-seven principle. Today we seek to answer the question, “How do we do that?” I believe God long ago taught me a very important principle that must be practiced by choice if we are to achieve the 70 X 7 goal of grace.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” Isaiah 43:25.

In a season of struggle in our marriage, reading through Isaiah, I come to chapter 43. Over and over I try reading to the end of the chapter and beyond, but can’t go on, as I keep being drawn back by the Spirit to verse 25.

Finally I say, “What? What, Lord? What do You want me to see?”

Yes, I was that brazen. I was frustrated, not wanting to look at what God was saying. I knew it would require something of me that at that instant I was not sure I wanted. But that question was the first step toward healing in my marriage. And God’s answer has led me to a greater walk of grace toward self and others.

Finally opening up to God’s work in me, I read that verse again and saw the words “for My own sake.”

“What do you mean, ‘for Your own sake,’ Lord?”

Backing up to see what came before, I note that Israel was still in the midst of their sin against God when He penned this wonderful verse of assurance. “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

“Why would You forgive while they are still in their sin, Lord? Isn’t repentance required for forgiveness?”

“For My Own sake,” says He, impressing upon my heart the following understanding. “Israel was constantly falling away from My will for them. If I had not chosen to forgive them from the beginning of time, I would have wiped them from the face of the earth. And I certainly would not have sent my Son to die such a cruel death on their behalf or yours. But from the beginning of time I have been working a plan, to create for Myself a people after My own heart, people I can love and walk in relationship with.

“For My Own sake, so I could fulfill My purpose rather than destroy it, having the relationship with My created beings that I desire, I chose to forgive today tomorrows insult, making My grace ready as a gift to be given. And you, for your part, must forgive as I have forgiven you, for the sake of relationship with Me and with your husband, and with yourself. For your unforgiveness will not only destroy your marriage and My will for you, but it will also destroy your health: mentally, physically and spiritually.”

“I am willing, Father. Make me able.”

We got through those rocky days and will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary in August; daily growing more in love than ever before and happily wed we are, by grace. Was it always easy? No. I often had to remind myself, even convince myself that “I forgave that insult yesterday, for my own sake and God’s.”

That lesson has helped me to deal with every insult since, letting others off my hook and leaving them to God so that I can maintain peace within and peace with Him. Now that does not mean that I keep putting myself into the fire. I have a relationship that I had to walk away from. The constant hurt and struggle was destructive. I love that friend dearly, and I am ready when they are to mend our relationship. When I encounter them, my love soars to the heights for them and we relate well together by grace, but I sense release from putting myself into that position of hurt until they are ready to deal with the issue.

Another such difficult relationship is with my daddy. I love him dearly and love visiting with him, hearing all his old stories and laughing together with him. But I have learned that it is okay, when he starts getting into his paranoid accusations, for me to hug his neck and say “so-long for awhile.”

I do not have to sit in the hurt when it is obvious that there is nothing I can do to change the other person’s thinking and beliefs; when the other person is unwilling or incapable of hearing truth or changing their way. It falls out of my sphere of responsibility and into God’s lap when there is nothing I can do about ‘it’.

Now that brings thought of a truth that must be realized. When insult comes from accusation, make sure to sit before God with it before letting it go. It is important to learn to allow God to help us rightly evaluate the accusing words of others. If we find that what they say is true, we need to deal with that, coming into repentance, making amends, etc. If we find the accusation to be false with no conviction of Spirit leading us to some fault of our own, then forgive, forget and go forward without looking back so as to cling to hurt, anger, and unforgiveness. If we can address the issue with the person and get things lined out fine; if not, we have to trust it to God and go on with life.

Jesus taught in His own example in life and in His own words of instruction that there are times when we need to knock the dust off our feet, like with my friend that I do not deliberately associate with anymore. And sometimes, for our own safety and ability to continue our journey in right standing with God, we have to walk out of the situation and go on our way, as when He walked out of the crowd in His own hometown. (Matthew10:14;Luke4:16-30)

So what does it mean to “shake the dust off your feet”? There are two things I know of.

One, according to the passage in Luke, is that it is a testimony against them, bearing witness before God as to the insult to Him and / or self, and leaving the judgment to Him.

And two, it is an act of leaving the anger, hurt, unforgiveness, resentment, etc, behind with the dust. Shaking it off is a refusal to allow the effects of the insult to cling to us so as to harm us: refusing to allow the emotions brought on by such to hinder our effectiveness in Christ, our relationship with God, our ability to relate with the offender or others, or our own health and wellbeing.

This act of knocking the dust off is what is meant by “remember it no more.” That does not mean that thought of the insult never enters our mind again. The memory of the insult may still flare up, but because we effectively knock the dust off, the impact of the insult no longer affects us. Thus, like God, who certainly has an excellent memory, often reciting Israel’s sins to them, we remember the sin no more in ways that would cause us to reenter the hurt and sever relations needlessly.

“So, Darlene,” you may ask, “if we are to forgive today tomorrow’s insult, where then does repentance fit in. After all, we are called to repentance.”

Forgiveness is our part in the discord, and we can choose to forgive as God has forgiven us through Christ. Repentance is the responsibility of the one who sins against us. It is the hand of an individual, reaching out in acknowledgment of one’s need of forgiveness with understanding of the requirement to change one’s ways; thus, being ready to receive the forgiveness given. Like with God, our choice to forgive beforehand makes our forgiveness a gift of grace. Our forgiveness, like God’s, is then found at the ready, gift wrapped with bows of love-filled hope for a better tomorrow in that relationship.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins,” for I am leaving the dust behind me.

 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32; see alsoMatthew6:9-15; Mark 11:20-26)

Forgiving God’s Way (Part 1 of 2)

 “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22, NASB).

 Peter asked Jesus this question about forgiveness, quoting the number of times required by the religious law of the day as the number of times to forgive. They took that number literally to mean that after seven times, they were free to hold unforgiveness even if the person was sincere in their repentance.

Jesus’ answer seems to up the number greatly to seventy times seven. But what exactly does that mean? Is it just a bigger number that we can count? If it is just a bigger number that we can count out, what of the teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 where it says that love—God’s kind of agape love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (vs. 5), meaning that it does not add up the insult to be used against someone over and over?

So what does it mean, this seventy times seven? Here’s a possibility.

Seven is the number of the perfection of God. Zero is the number of infinity. Seventy times seven times is telling us that as God forgives perfectly, we are to strive to forgive as He forgives, in infinitum. Only by His grace can we do that. It is a call to rely fully on Him for our ability to forgive those who hurt and offend us.

So how do we do that? I believe God took me deeper into understanding His call to forgive as He does long ago in a personal time of struggle. We will look at that tomorrow.