Tag Archives: forgiveness

Encourage Righteousness

“… Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

I believe that Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day, enough-so that He refused to fear insulting them for their good and the good of those looking to their instruction. Our teaching, exemplary lives, and testimonies of faith matter to God the Father. To me, the greater insult and act of hate is to see a professing Christian bear a testimony that leads others away from God and say nothing for fear of offending them. Better for them to be offended by me, and me by them, than to face God after living offensively toward His Lordship, will, and way.

I also know that we are called to deal with our own issues first and to take care that our attempts to help another is not an act of hypocrisy. We are always to act out of sincere love and care, for the good of others and the glory of God. And I know that we do not always know and judge our own heart rightly. Sin is so deceptive, our own hearts so deceived, that we don’t often realize the sin we practice. Thus, encouraging and building one another up in love is vital when God the Father directs it.

Anytime I am led to encourage a loved one to rethink a position taken or word said, it makes me look at self and make adjustments too. Hope of encouraging righteous living in others, encourages and strengthens self first, as I apply the truths professed to my own life.

It is vital any word of encouragement to look at ones self and adjust direction be based on God’s judgment, standing in agreement with His Word of law, will, and way, and not one’s own ideology. Why should another be dictated by my personal sensitivities, or me, theirs. But all must bow to God’s will and way. Judgment must always be based on what God has already judged.

In these days of lawlessness and evil, self-reliance and personal offensiveness, it is vital that we help one another realize when we are walking in the ways of this world instead of on the paths of righteousness that honors God as God. So if you love me and care about my relationship with God and the testimony I bear, love me enough to encourage my righteousness, even though it may insult or offend me for a moment. If your viewpoint aligns with God’s, He will help me see that and change my ways. And I pray to love you enough to speak truth, according to God’s Word, to you in kind.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭NASB

Without Regret

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus, Matthew‬ ‭18:15‬ ‭NASB

It appears to me in these days, that it is not considered kosher to speak of things God considers to be sin. It’s considered negative and unpopular to speak of sin or the sin nature. It makes people feel bad about themselves, which is unacceptable in a feel-good society. It’s not easy to address sin issues with people today, just as it was difficult for Paul, who shares this fact with the Corinthians; but his experience shows that it is profitable when received properly, as God desires.

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Addressing sin issues in this world is seen as insulting, it makes people uncomfortable – as it should, and instead of recognizing the person pointing out the issue as speaking God’s judgment in agreement with His Word, the insulted one sees the speaker as being judgmental. We allow feelings of insult to keep us from asking God if what the speaker is talking about is true of us. We fail to recognize our sin nature, and seek God to lead us to repentance that turns from sin to align with Him and become as He is, bearing His image into this world. But to God, sin is a dead serious issue, and we are called to help one another recognize the pit we are in and, if possible, give a hand up from that pit.

The preacher, standing in for our pastor today, spoke of his memory of preaching to his stuffed animals as a young child. The desire and call to preach has always been in him. I have a similar memories. The first thing I remember after accepting Jesus as Savior, at about 10 years of age, is sharing Jesus and the need of repentance with a friend on the next day. Another vivid memory is of being the Bible teacher for our kid’s club, sharing scripture and teaching on things God calls “sin” or “righteousness”. It is in me, and I must faithfully speak warning to the heart that walks contrary to God.

Scripture does not focus on just righteousness, it contrasts righteousness with sin. Contrast produces understanding. I.e., we can’t fully know love without a comprehension of hate.

I know how hard it is to hear and receive such warnings. Sin is in all of us, and I’ve had to ask God if a sin warned against was truly in me. He has used faithful friends to pull me out of pits. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what I think of you or you, me. We can believe we see an issue with sin as defined and judged by God, in self or another, and be wrong. We can think the person seeing the issue in us is wrong when they are truly seeing clearly. We don’t know the heart like God does. We don’t even truly know our own hearts, either beating ourselves up with harsh self-evaluation or by refusing to receive truth. Thus it is vital that, when a preacher seems to be talking straight to us or a friend takes time to warn us, that we ask God’s opinion and seek His truth with a heart that is ready to hear, receive, and repent.

Don’t fear or ignore the voice God uses to call you out on a sin habit in this life, Beloved. Let it lead you to needed repentance. Fear, instead, being called out for sin when the end of days stands us before the judgment seat of God, where we will find it too late for repentance. Thank those who love you enough to reach a helping hand out with hope of keeping you from that fiery pit. And give God glory for His saving grace reaching out to us through Jesus, even while we are still sinners at heart.

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭NASB

Note to the Church

“Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord God be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. …” – ‭‭Micah‬ ‭1:2-5‬ ‭NASB

Church, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and spared the eternal death of separation from God, saved from being cast into eternal hell. Proof of this grace in us is seen as we turn from sin by the power of His Spirit, to bear the fruit of righteousness in likeness to Christ. And we are continually being perfected, as we, day by day, walk free of our sin nature and become more Christlike, choosing Him more and more. But we, as His people, are not spared from the consequences of sin in this life now.

The world – people who have not received Christ and who are the true “walking dead”, cannot be expected to recognize and walk free of sin, being separated from Him and without His Spirit to teach them what sin is. It is because of us, who know what sin is, but give ourselves to it anyway, or give harty approval of it by condoning sin as ok, that discipline of a nation comes.

By the power of God’s Spirit today, look at self first: where is God calling you personally to repentance? Once you have taken care of personal business with God, then look at the Church as a whole: where are we giving approval to sin? If you share the Name of God in Christ, repent. Perhaps God will have mercy on US again.

The Righteous Way of Anger

Anger is not sin, it’s an emotion. God’s Word says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin….” (Eph. 4:26)

In our pictured Mark 3 passage, we are told that Jesus was angry because of the hardheartedness of the Pharisees he was dealing with. He was angry because they held of higher value the keeping of the tradition of doing nothing they counted as work on the Sabbath, above the need of the people around them. He was angry at the distortion of God’s law for personal gain by those lording it over those they were called to minister to as servants in His name.

In other accounts of this work of Christ, He chides them for willingly helping one of their farm animals in need, while ignoring the need of the people they were to serve. They were hypocrites about the type of good work done on the sabbath and would condemn others for doing what they, themselves did when it was important to them. They were good about requiring others to do what they would not do. Their hypocrisy, hardheartedness, and ungodly arrogance toward others made Jesus angry.

Two things from this passage point to what changes anger from godly, to ungodly (sinful). One is the why of our anger. Selfish, self-centered anger does not please God. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He usurped their authority, taking away their power and influence over the people. They were jealous. Selfish anger, anger based on getting ones own way in a situation, or one showing carelessness for the need or problems of others, makes that anger sinful.

The second thing is what we do with that anger. Jesus chose to do what was pleasing to God and set a godly example for those watching in making the care of others a priority. He did not let the opinion of the leaders of that day keep Him from doing the good set before Him. And He spoke truth to them.

The full Ephesians verse says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (4:26-27) We are to do what is right, take care of the issue in a godly manner out of loving care for God and man, and take care of it quickly. When we let anger hang around, coursing through our heart and soul, the devil uses it to get a stronghold in our lives as bitterness takes hold, rising with hate close behind it.

And here’s another thing to note. Jesus did not concern Himself with the Pharisees’ attitude toward Him, whether they liked him or accepted his instruction. He spoke truth to all, desiring that truth to influence their lives for good. But what they did with it was their responsibility. He dealt with it, and left it in their lap. He didn’t cling to the anger or carry it to the next encounter.

We are to do the same: speak truth out of love, desiring to influence the ones dealt with in ways that lead them closer to godliness; do what is right in God’s eyes, despite what others think; then release the outcome to God, not letting anger take hold in destructive ways, but trusting God to deal with the hearts of all involved.

“… 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 coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬ ‭‬‬

Love Bears All Things

Love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered, adding them all together and holding them against a person. That’s an easy one to see. But do we realize this?

Counting up the good I do to someone I love, with thought that they aren’t loving me in the same way, adding my good against them, is the same thing.

It is counting up wrongs suffered by lifting my good as opposed to their lack of it as I see it, and that is in opposition to true love as God defines it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love trusts God to reward “my good”.

Love loves because it is who I am in Christ, and it is what I do to please my God, who is love.

That counts.

Loss of Love

The death of a relationship is one of the hardest of deaths, for the person mourned is not gone from life, they are only gone from my life. It’s especially grievous when we don’t know why they left the relationship.

Sadly, refusal to address the issue causing the separation says a lot about the falsehood of the love in that relationship. True love cares enough to address issues. So someone walking away without a word as to why, with no effort to address the issue, is symptom of a lack of true love and caring.

So there is the real pain. I thought they loved and cared for me as I do for them, but I now know they didn’t. I’ve tried to reach out through multiple avenues, and they ignore it out of some perceived insult from me that I don’t know I did. It hurts, deeply. Intent to go where they live and try to see them face to face has been hindered, but that remains in my heart to do. However, it feels too late now.

Loss of what I thought we had is the pain. They don’t love me enough to tell me what I did so we can address the problem and heal the relationship. How do we heal that wound?

Jesus addressed rejection this way, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus forgave the rejection of those who refused His love; and He prayed for those who rejected Him to have God’s forgiveness. And! Jesus was and is ready to reestablish relationship whenever we call.

I love my friend. I wait for that friend to reach out, address the issue, and heal our wounds. I realize the loss in my life, and I am saddened. May our God bless and keep my friend. May my heart remain ready to reestablish relationship. For me, trust is the issue now. And that is truly sad.

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

The True Gift

As I prayed this morning over people I love, our crazed earth, and our need of our Father, the song, “Oh How He Loves You and Me” came to heart. I haven’t thought of or heard that song in years. Since the devil doesn’t want our minds and hearts to know the love of God, I can trust that remembrance to be God, speaking peace and comfort to my aching heart.

From The Christ Child’s cradle-manger to the cross; from the cross to the right hand of the throne of Mercy’s Grace; from ever interceding on our behalf to meeting us in the soon parting clouds, Jesus came and will come again because God loves you and me.

Remembrance of the song sent me searching YouTube, where I found this beautiful rendition coupled with my mother’s favorite gospel hymn, The Old Rugged Cross. By this grace of God’s message to me, I am comforted by my Hope.

“Jesus to Calvary did go, His love for sinners to show. What He did there brought hope from despair. Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how He loves me; Oh, how He loves you and me.”

Isn’t God faithful to minister such love to our aching hearts. “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” (John‬ ‭3:16‬).‬ ‬

Jesus came to set us free from sin and shame, delivering us from the death of separation from The God who so greatly and faithfully loves us. How awesome that is to my heart. And how sad, when the first renditions of this beautiful song listened to were found with wording changed to a more politically correct message, taking “sinner” out of the equation and replacing it with the word “mankind”.

God requires us to recognize that we are sinners in desperate need of our Savior. We can’t fully realize how destitute we are without Him by failing to recognize our sin nature. The politically correct movement of this world refuses to acknowledge fault, flaw, or fact. As scripture warns will come, the politically correct practices of a fallen world have infiltrated the church to bring about a watered down, often false-narrative gospel.

As Paul said, “It is a trustworthy statement, DESERVING FULL ACCEPTANCE, that Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭NASB). There cannot be “full acceptance” when the truth is watered down to make us feel better, more worthy in our own right.

The Gospel of Jesus, the gift He gave is for all mankind. Yes. But it is only possessed by those who can admit their sin nature and destitute need of this blessed gift of a Savior: our Kinsman Redeemer who accepted the penalty of our debt so we can be set free indeed. And what does being “set free indeed” require?

“… “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth will make you free.” … “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed….”” (John‬ ‭8:31-38‬ ‭NASB)

We are worthy: worthy of eternal separation from our Holy God, which is the eternal death scripture says Adam delivered us into, because we are sinners made so in the flesh by our relation to that one man. Until we realize that truth, we cannot fully discern the greatness of the sacrifice God’s gift of mercy in Christ has produced on our behalf, freeing us from the sin that separates through the One Man, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Until we understand this truth, we cannot receive God’s gift and be saved. Thus, we must refuse the false hope of the politically correct narrative and come to full acceptance that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am foremost of all.

Seeds of Unforgiveness

“Festering” of anger is caused by unforgiveness. Bringing old hurts to new situations is a symptom of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness breeds hate. Forgiveness, “for one’s own sake,” choosing to forgive for the sake of one’s own freedom from resentment and hate, is healing and promotes healing conversations for healing of relationships. One cannot relate well and press forward from insult without forgiveness.

Our world is aflame with hate because of refusal to forgive past insult and deal with the issues of this season and this generation. Those who bring the sins of the parents to peace talks stab old wounds with the bloody knife of old issues. We feed hate, and love dies.

“… You have wearied Me with your iniquities. “I (God), even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:24-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

True Forgiveness: an Agapé Love Action

“If you never forgive yourself how can you forgive others. Just a thought.” (Aleshia Beth Barnett)

“Forgiveness being a love action: how can we love others when we can’t love ourselves.” (My thought-reply in response)

Pictured is a post from a dear friend, daughter to one of my best friends, who struggles as I have. I know many who have struggled to love through forgiveness. Her statement took me immediately to what God has taught me that has delivered me so mightily, setting me free to love as He loves.

With her permission, stemming off her ponderings, I share with you this freedom that is yours in Christ. Only Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can give this love to and through us.

Here’s my advice to those struggling to forgive self and others: Learn of God’s love. Not only so you can rest in Him and in His presence, free from the fear of eternal punishment, but because THAT is the love He places in us and causes to flow through us. So we should learn all we can to know His love and seek daily to grow strong His image of Love in us.

God’s Agapé Love is the only love strong enough to equip us to forgive our enemies and do good to them, as God desires; and His gift to us in the Spirit is the only love by which we can truly forgive self and those we love, the way we want and need to. To get there, ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, ears, mind, and heart to believe, receive, and possess this gift. Then work through the following passages. May God bless you, in the power of His love to and through you. By the living power of God in Jesus, The Christ. Amen

John 15:1-17 NASB

Abiding: God in Christ living through us by the power of the Spirit in us and us possessing Life in Him by the work of His Spirit in and through us, is vital.

Galatians 5:16-26 NASB

Bearing the fruit of God’s image, being as He is by surrender to the work of the Spirit in us, is vital.

1 John 4:7-21 NASB

Being Love, as He is Love in us, is vital.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB

Note the actions of love listed that require forgiveness. Understanding what Love looks and acts like is vital.

Luke 6:27-36 NASB

Being Love depends on who “I” am and what “I” desire to be, not on what others do to “me”. Committing to this truth and walking it even toward one called “enemy” is vital to our obedience in rightly portraying God’s image in us.

Romans 12:9-21 NASB

It is vital to realize that Love fulfills the Law, trusting God to be God toward us and those we love, even when they hurt, steal, kill, and seek to destroy us, being enemies to us. Love is first toward God, trusting His Love to do right in all that concerns us.

A little footnote here, for those who might wonder: Love should prevail even in war against those who, as an enemy, would force a fight. We do so, going to the fight out of love for those we fight to protect. And we do so, out of love for God as a people who stand for right as God sees it.

We fight against an enemy for righteousness sake. And we do so as guided by Love, not out of vengeance, hate, bitterness, and anger, but desiring righteousness and trusting God to handle the consequences to those who wish us harm, on whom our weapons of war fall.

Choosing to be love as He is Love, even in war, protects us from hate, bitterness, and anger, that harms self, by destroying God’s image of Love in us. Love: true, deep, abiding Love that forms our “who” to be as He Is, is vital for all occasions.

God is Sovereign

He holds the hearts of kings.

“This is what the Lord says: “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I WILL NOT LET THEM GO UNPUNISHED! … Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” (Amos 2:6a, 3:6 NLT)

We tend to forget that God is still Sovereign over all. We forget that He holds the hearts of kings in His hands to turn them the direction of His will for His purpose. An enemy attacked us on 911 and God sent us to fight that enemy. He used us to deliver a nation from an evil overlord. That is how He Works.

We are told that “God is patient toward us, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We see that fact in God’s words to Abraham as He tells them of Israel’s future slavery and their return to take the promised land. The Lord says, “After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction” (Genesis 15:16 NLT).

God gives the Amorites time to turn from evil, but knowing they won’t, He sets the day when their opportunity to repent is gone. We see God direct the heart of kings against a sinful, unrepentant people over and over in scripture. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must take His sovereign rule to heart and recognize His hand in our day. And we, as a nation, must repent before God says, “Enough!”

The Gift, Received

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 NLT

How sad, to have someone standing before us, beckoning us to take the gift He so graciously purchased for us, not realizing it is all we ever truly needed and has the perks of fulfilling our deepest longings. Yet to never reach out to possess it, or to only lightly grasp it, never fully opening it to discover the joys within. This is the world: blind to the truth of Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for ALL THE WORLD. Eternal security is there as a gift for the taking. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, expanding the horizons, yet the world snubs it or halfheartedly takes it in hand without fully unwrapping it, all because it can’t get past doubt to find ever growing belief, which is part of the gift.

This is “the world”, fully covered by Jesus, but blinded by worldly pursuits hidden in dark places; failing to recognize that the greatest treasures are found in the Light of His glory and grace, freely gifted to all who will receive it by faith’s belief. Have you grasped hold of the Gift and started unwrapping it’s treasures?

We leave the ranks of this world to become a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom by choosing to believe with the faith God sparks to life within us, taking the gift in hand. As we begin to open it and receive all His Spirit reveals therein, faith grows an ever stronger grasp on truth we can fully believe. We unwrap The Gift to discover its treasures through the study of God’s Word found in the Holy Bible, and through growing association with God’s people; through faith filled prayer that earnestly seeks God in all His fullness, trusting His word of promise that those who seek Him this way will find Him. He becomes our greatest, most prized treasure, and life, the greatest treasure hunt, a gift we gladly share. It’s a journey beyond imagination: a journey worth living. Come! Join us, the Kingdom of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Grant me this ever growing faith to trust Your Gift, purchased for me by Jesus, Your Holy Son. Grant me to be filled to the full with Your Holy Spirit, sent to me by the Father, to empower me to fully possess The Gift and the Giver. Let Your Holy Spirit, who is The Helper, Teacher, Comforter, Companion, and Unifying Power, Your Guiding-Light Presence – Let Him have full sway in me, to fill me up, empower my full possession of The Gift, and spill me out to be Your light to others, helping others receive, believe, and possess You. Thank You, Lord, for being my One true and only God and King. Thank You for saving me, not because I somehow earned and deserve it, but simply because You love me and want to spend eternity with me in Your Kingdom, prepared for me. I gratefully receive Your gift, Lord. Help me fully possess it. In Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Forgiveness or Consequence

I heard it said recently that God does not forgive the unrepentant. There are two reasons that come quickly to mind that tells my heart that such a statement is a false understanding. One is found in Jesus. The second is found in God’s relationship with Israel as expressed in Isaiah 43.

First, Jesus. Scripture tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us ALL TO FALL ON HIM.” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness before we could repent, and He paid it for ALL. I don’t know about you, but in my understanding, all means ALL. All mankind goes astray from God and His way. Jesus took ALL of our sin to the cross and paid the price of sin for ALL, purchasing God’s forgiveness from sin.

God’s forgiveness stands ready to receive by each of us because of Jesus. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with us. We cannot earn it or buy it. Though repentance is required, our repentance does not buy God’s forgiveness. Our repentance simply reaches out like a hand ready to receive that which is already ours in Christ. It is ready and available for us before we seek it when we bow to the Lordship of Christ, admit we are sinners, and commit ourselves to following God in Christ’s likeness. Failure to seek it through repentance is failure to possess that which is ready and waiting for us.

Point 1: God has already forgiven ALL HUMANKIND because of Jesus.

My second reason for belief in God’s forgiveness even toward the unrepentant is found in Isaiah 43 as recorded in the NASB. Here we find Israel in the throws of rebellious sin. As God calls their sin against them, he proclaims His heart over them, forgiveness issued despite unrepentant sin.

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:24-25)

This is the very definition of forgiveness. “I wipe out your transgressions (erasing the record of them) and I will not remember your sins (holding them in account against you)” was a present tense promise to Israel. Forgiveness was already there for them, in the midst of sin. God is proclaiming here, “Though I am wearied by your constant sin, I forgive you for My own sake.”

When God pointed this out to me, I asked Him why He chose to forgive for His own sake. Clearly to my heart came this understanding, “Darlene, if I had not chosen to forgive in the midst of sin, I never would have put My Son on a cruel cross for such a wretch as you.” I’m so grateful God forgave all, and held it out for me to receive.

Point 2: God’s forgiveness is for His own sake, that love may reach out to the unlovable.

God’s forgiveness is already there for hands of repentance to receive. Repentance is the hand that possesses God’s merciful forgiveness. But consequences can still come even though we are forgiven. We must not confuse consequences in this life as unforgiveness.

In our Isaiah passage, God proclaims, “… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.” (Isaiah 43:24-28 NASB)

God forgave Israel’s sin for His own sake, but the consequences of sin were not stopped.

God has warned us from heaven’s throne, giving us the laws that teach us how to keep His way. With those laws God set the consequences that come to sin, not the least of which is the consequence of failure to acknowledge Christ and receive Mercy’s forgiveness. That consequence is eternal separation from God. Though God has already forgiven, failure to receive it requires the consequence for that sin.

Despite God’s forgiveness that is ready for receipt, we can refuse the gift and suffer the consequence. But God’s forgiveness remains intact. It honors the price Jesus paid. And we, who have received God’s gift of eternal mercy through Christ, may still have to deal with consequences for choices in this life. Sex out of marriage, though repented of, can still lead to pregnancy. Your consequence does not mean God has failed to forgive. Consequence is the law of life in a fallen world. But God, out of love and grace, will walk with us as we deal with the results of wrong choices.

Now here is the thing, Love. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32, that we ought to “forgive others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” God’s forgiveness in Christ was before creation and continues to us post Christ’s fulfillment. It stands at the ready for our reception. Our forgiveness must do the same. We forgive in Christ for our own sake, making forgiveness a gift made ready in likeness to our God.

Who are you holding unforgiveness toward? Jesus paid the price so you, who are forgiven, can escape the shackles of unforgiveness and walk free from sin. Get a box and wrapping paper and make your forgiveness ready for that one to receive when the hand of repentance reaches out to you.

The Cleansing Coal

One of my favorite songs, recorded by Kutless, is “Take Me In (To The Holy of Holies)”. My enjoyment of it is especially true in these days of God teaching me the greater depths of our role as His Temple. On one particular day, as I sang along with it, revelation dawned on a truth needed.

The lyric is of one seeking Father to, “take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.” Those words usher in thought of two scripture passages, the first being the source of that lyric.

“…Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”” (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)

Isaiah has just gazed upon the glory of God, seated on His throne. Instantly, Isaiah not only confesses his sin and the sin of all the nation’s people, but he also expresses deep, abiding surrender to God’s will: “Here I am.” With Isaiah’s recognition of the fire of iniquity fueling that sin, my mind goes to the second passage risen up within me, found in James.

“…if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT)

We cannot help, when in the sure and pure Presence of God, but to realize how unworthy we are to be there. When God heard Isaiah’s repentant plea, God sent the angel with the burning coal to touch his lips and cleanse Isaiah’s entire being. In doing so, not only was Isaiah cleansed and purified, but He was set apart and anointed to use that mouth in service to God. He spent the remainder of His day’s doing just that as a prophet of the One True God to the people of Israel.

Looking at both passages, we can recognize that our mouths are a major hot spot in our journey to please God. James states it clearly. Ability to control the tongue equips one to control their entire being.

Reading on, James warns, “…the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 NASB)

Think about it. We too quickly speak, only to find ourselves on roads of endeavor God never intended. We make a rash commitment that forces us on a path to destruction; or we speak thoughtlessly, only to back out and fail to keep our word. Or we respond too quickly to falsehood, insult, injustice, dispute, only to find doors of opportunity and relationship closed; and further access denied.

Then there are hurting people who constantly hurt people. There’s prideful people who overestimate themselves and bite off more than they can chew. And there are insecure people who fearfully fail to trust God and refuse an opportunity He sends that would not only grow faith and security, but allow them to participate in a work of God beyond their comfort zone, bringing them up higher in their walk with God. And, lest we forget, as stated by James, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:9-10 NASB)

But God cleanses and God sanctifies, putting a new fire in our tongues, flaming from a bit of His choosing, controlled by the reins His Hands direct. With surrender to His bit and bridle, He leads us to walk the streets of His desire, design, will, and purpose.

With these insights, I have to ask what we can learn from the analogy of the bit and bridle. We will look at these in the next post.

Heart Matters

“…The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. ….” (Genesis 4:1-16 NLThttp://bible.com/116/gen.4.1-16.nlt)

Cain and Abel: we know the story well. Here we see these first born into the world. Bear with me for a little speculation here. Cain was firstborn. The first experience of birth pangs. He is named “Cain” in appreciation of God’s help bearing something Eve never knew before that experience. Thus, Eve describes the meaning of the name, Cain, when she proclaims, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man.”

When Abel came, Eve knew from experience what to expect and was better prepared for his birthing. The name, Abel, means “vapor, breath, in the negative sense of having no substance and being something very close to nothing.” Now, considering the implication of Cain being so named out of gratitude for God’s help in going through such unanticipated difficulty, Eve, being better prepared, saw the birth of Abel as a breeze by comparison.

Now, I’ve seen women who had difficult births teasingly, or not, remind their child often of the great pain “they” caused her. This frequent rant often causes a child to feel unacceptable, breeding a need to please with hope of being accepted. If, this was the reality for Cain, we have the root of rejection he dealt with on a daily basis. Abel, on the other hand, would function from a position of being accepted and loved, which breeds confidence. Such differences in there motivational viewpoints led to a sibling rivalry.

With that understanding, we turn to the scene at hand.

First, note that, though they are no longer in Eden, God, the Father, continues to walk with them in fatherly love and acceptance, seeking to relate with and influence their lives for good. He and Abel appear to have a good relationship. Abel, being confident and assured of loving acceptance, out of that love, brings God a gift of the first and best of his herd.

Then comes Cain. Remember, he functions out of rejection and insecurity. He comes with a gift, probably trying to keep up with his brother and somehow win the approval and acceptance of God. His gift is not from a spirit of love and appreciation, thus his gift is a bunch grabbed in haste, not from the first of the crop, and certainly not the finest. Thus, he gives out of a spirit of followship, not fellowship, and most likely begrudgingly given, feeling he had to buy God’s love, while anticipating that nothing will be enough, so why waste the best.

Note here that Abel gave from the blood sacrifice. Cain gave from sin’s curse. Let’s see if I can explain what I see:

Adam and Eve’s sin led to the curse of death, a separation from the intimacy they had with God before the fall. When God cursed the land to bring difficulty to Adam’s work as a farmer and sent them out of the garden, He first made a blood sacrifice for them and covered their nakedness by the power of His grace. Thus, though they were no longer in the Garden, they still had access to God.

Abel not only literally gave a blood sacrifice to God out of a loving relationship with Him, but he gave from the position of the forgiven. Cain, functioning out of rejection, failed to recognize God’s love and grace toward him. His gifts came from that sense of the cursed. Thus, God did not accept a gift given begrudgingly, from one trying to buy what was already there for him to freely possess. Out of his “feelings” of rejection, Cain rejected the truth about God toward him. Dejected, he walked away to sulk and brood in anger that turned on Abel.

Notice something else here. Dejected and sulking in his pity party, God approached Cain, reaching out to him with truth intended to help him make a wise choice toward a righteous path. Cain again rejected God’s hand of love, failing to recognize that God was dealing with him as a Father toward a beloved son.

“For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:6 NLT)

Now look at Cain’s state of mind. Dejected means sad and depressed; dispirited. Synonyms are downcast, down hearted or disheartened, despondent, disconsolate, dispirited, crestfallen. Of these, despondent stands out to me as true of Cain: being in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. And disconsolate: (of a place or thing) causing or showing a complete lack of comfort; cheerless. He was so bitter and angry that he had no ability to receive comfort. Though The Father reached out to Cain in love, desiring to lift his countenance and direct him to truth and the righteous path, Cain gave himself to his dejected spirit and killed his brother.

God’s Word warns us that our fleshly hearts are deceptive, and cannot be trusted. He advises us to keep our thoughts focused on the true, the right, the pure, the honorable, the lovely, the admirable, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If Cain had trusted and believed God, leaning into Him to develop his own relationship with Him, having right thoughts toward Him, he would have avoided all his trouble.

Where is your heart toward God, Beloved? Do you trust His love for you? Are you trapped by fears of rejection, dejected in your thinking toward God and man? Is that breeding distrust toward God; jealousy, bitterness, and anger toward others? Are you trying to buy the love and acceptance Jesus already bought and holds out as a gift to you? Where is your heart motive in seeking after God?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A

“… we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. ….” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1

Before looking at the thoughts for today, I want to emphasize again that the purpose of this trip through Hebrews is not to delve into what this author is teaching. I thought that is what I was to do when the Spirit inspired this journey. Instead, I find Him highlighting topic matters that we can delve into with the goal of “Finding Who We Are” in Christ.

That said, chapter 9 is discourse regarding temple worship and the priestly sacrifice of Christ. That leads me again to our priestly role and our responsibility as the very Temple of God in our days.

I’ve spent days here trying to make one blog out of the topic of our being the New Covenant Temple and our priestly role therein. However, the topic is vast, my thoughts full. I decided yesterday that it would take several posts to cover properly. Then, this morning The Spirit woke me with discernment that I was starting at the wrong door – the door to the Holy Place; thus, I was missing some important insights on us as The New Temple of God and our priestly role here.

The Temple complex has the outer court where sinner and saint, priest and laymen, could all enter in. This yard is outside the actual Temple, which includes the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, each having only one, covered entrance.

Once a person took care of their business in the outer court, the priest assisting them had to continue the ritual for them, entering the Holy Place on their behalf. Then, as we know, once a year the High Priest, after proper cleansing for his own and all the people’s sins, entered the Holy of Holies on The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

As I woke this morning, I realized there are important aspects in the outer court that are contributions to understanding who we are as The Temple and Priest unto God in Christ. The outer court is in us as part of the Temple of God through Christ, just as in the first Temple.

When people came to the Temple to worship and tend to business with God, they found only one entrance. Jesus is and always has been the way, the truth, and the life. No one enters God’s Presence without going through Him. The first doorway leads into the outer court, where the unclean is cleansed. Each doorway leading us deeper into God’s Presence requires passing through the Christ. Through Christ, often using one of us, The Father draws those in need of grace. That grace is found in the outer court.

A thought that hits here: as a temple of God, people cannot come near to us without passing through Jesus to get there. If God allows a person to come close enough for us to effect one another’s lives, it is God ordained for eternal purpose. Be alert to the opportunity.

Once a person responds to God’s call, they step through the curtain of Jesus to find a priest, one of us, standing at the altar of sacrifice. The instant they step through the curtain, they step onto holy ground as they are entering the very presence of God.

I realize as I write this that this aspect of Temple service is why the image of Christ in us is so vital. We are the face of this doorway. When people enter our presence, they enter the outer court. What they experience in us either rightly or wrongly represents God.

Our Temple posture is to be one of holiness, revealing a quality that leaves the world and reveals God’s Presence. Our priestly role is to be a conduit of God’s love, wooing people to the altar where the covering of Mercy’s grace is found.

Beloved, we are the Temple and the Temple includes the outer court encounters with people of the world. Wherever we are, we are on holy ground. Wherever we are, we are in our priestly robes, called and equipped by God to perform our priestly duties. The first duty is to lead people to the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary.

When a person entered the temple of Moses’ day, they had sacrifice in hand. They would take it to the altar, which was near the entrance as first order of business with God. The priest was ready and waiting to make sacrifice for them.

In our bodies as His Temple, Beloved, Jesus has already provided their sacrifice and ours. We stand as priest in representing Him and His interests. Jesus in us makes His appeal to draw people who need Him to the altar as they see His Light – His work in and through us. He does so through us as we remember that we are His priests, having our holy feet set on His Holy Ground, living holy lives as the holy people of God.

“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered WHICH CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, HE ENTERED THE HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD?” (Vs. 8-14 Hebrews 9:8-14, 27-28 NASB)

The outer tabernacle was the Temple made with hands that a person had to attend often. It did not fully cleanse, but was a temporary solution until the time of the Christ. When Christ came, His sacrifice entered the eternal Temple, cleansing us for all time. This is the Temple in us, the Temple we are: the eternal temple in the heavens with God. We are cleansed forever in Christ, made holy as He is holy. That holiness sustains us, cleansing conscience from dead works to serve the living GOD.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Vs. 27-28)

Before we leave the altar of sacrifice leading to salvation in Christ, this seems a good time to breakaway and answer two commonly debated questions: Who are saved? And can one’s salvation be lost?

A Standard Set

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

I can understand the heart of a woman’s pain when watching a man she knows as “rapist” from her earlier days, seeing him very likely to be raised up to a position of authority in our highest court system. It must be excruciating to her. And more excruciating is the issue of not being able to prove her accusations to those same courts. But proof is necessary, and righteously so. Thus I feel her pain and I comprehend the struggle.

At the same time, I can comprehend the pain of a man who may not believe he is guilty in the way accused; or who has so greatly changed since then so as to no longer be that person. Fortunately, for him, we live in a society of law that lays the burden of proof on the shoulders of the accuser, counting the accused innocent until proven guilty. And I, for one, am very grateful for our system of law. It is, by the way, biblical, the scriptures making it clear that there must be at least two or three witnesses to a crime.

I am writing today, not to tell any woman they shouldn’t feel or possess their pain, nor to tell them they should not bring their accusation when their hurt was from so many years past. God knows your pain and He can lead you to have strength to stand up to the accused. But I am writing to share how God has so graciously freed me from my pain; the frequency of these cases constantly drawing me into a grateful heart toward my God who set me free indeed.

My experience is different from many of the women coming forward today against men; like that of Bill Cosby. I was not, to my knowledge, drugged. In cases where a man drugs a woman to have his way with her, that is RAPE in one of the ugliest forms. Though I was not maliciously drugged, I was drunk out of my skull, and some of my drunkenness was helped by the boy who raped me.

I was somewhere between mid-16 to mid-17 years old. Though I professed Christ as Savior at the age of 10, I was not raised up to know how to follow Him as Lord, nor to know the importance and freedom-producing purpose of doing so. On that fateful night in my life, I was terribly upset about something I do not even recall the details of now. Instead of turning to Christ for His help in the pain, I had opportunity to turn to liquor. And turn I did.

I chugged a huge gulp of wine, climbed on the back of my car in our secluded party spot, one of my gal-friends beside me, and was immediately surrounded by five or six boys. Someone nearby handed me some type of another liquor; not sure who as I was already feeling the effects of the wine. I took a drink and passed it to the next person.

Somewhere along the way, one of the boys got the others to hand the bottle to me every other turn. I was so drunk, that the details given to you now, to this point in my experience, are all I remember until numerous hours later when I began to sober up. I was passed out drunk in the back seat of my car most of the night, according to friends.

The next day my girlfriends told me what all happened that night. It included me winding up in the back seat with that boy who, in my memory, started the liquor coming my way every other time; which some might say was me being maliciously drugged. That’s a heart issue judgment best left with God.

I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me from getting in the backseat with him. I’m sure if they did, I didn’t cooperate. But I do know that no one fought that boy away from me. Thus, in the sense that I was incapacitated in my ability to make a knowing and wise decision, I was raped that night, the only memory of which that I have is the flash of his face over me.

Despite my lack of memory of the incident, I have never felt that I had no role in what happened. In the sense of culpability, I have always considered myself most to credit for the assault. You see, I knew the results of drunkenness from watching my alcoholic Mom. I knew better than to drink like that. If I didn’t understand its dangers before that night, I certainly did after, and never again drank that way.

I believe God led me to do four things immediately following that night that absolutely freed me from the pain of the experience. That incident has never stunted or harmed my ability to move on in life as a result of these actions.

  • First, I took responsibility for my role in the travesty, owning it, and I repented before my Lord for my actions that led to a drunken state that removed from me the ability to choose good over evil; and I repented the sexual sin that resulted because of my vulnerability in my drunken state, which I deliberately chose for myself. No one forced me to get drunk.
  • Second, I faced my rapist and, after apologizing to him for my part in allowing myself to get into such a state that I would do something with him I never would have done sober, I was able to leave his role in the rape with God for Him to handle. God empowered a forgiveness toward him for my own sake, so bitterness nor any other enemy to my mental health and well-being was able to bind me up. The incident had no talons with which to get hold on me.
  • Third, I both apologized to my friends for things I did that I do not remember doing, and I forgave them without their asking for it, for not fully recognizing my vulnerable state and fighting for me.
  • Fourth, I forgave myself for getting out of control like that and I learned from it.

Some would say that I should have turned the boy in, but truly, it did not occur to me that the incident was RAPE until years later, when we started seeing cases like this bombard our TV screens. In my day the rule was that drunken is as drunken does. I just thought of it as a night of stupidity and loss.

I don’t recall the name of that boy, not that I would share it here if I did. And I barely remember what he looked like then. I would not recognize that boy, now a man, today, unless he came up to me and told me who he was. Even if I did, I would not bring charges against him, not because I see myself as better than women who do bring a charge against a rapist long past, nor because I would be afraid to, but because, for me, it is done, settled, finished. God has it. He is The Judge and He will tend to it.

The only way I would ever even think about bearing witness to his actions in a court of law is as a witness in a case where more current rape victims bring charges against him: to help them make a stronger case, showing a long held lifestyle of raping women to this day. My hope is that God worked in his life and that he never again participated in such horrific acts against women. Until I see otherwise, he has nothing to fear from me.

Beloved, God raises up a standard over His children in our battle against evil, an evil powered by the demonic. For me, it was a standard of owning and repenting my role in the evil done. It was forgiving those who even inadvertently participated in the evil, including myself. And it is (and was) understanding of God’s grace and mercy that equips me to let the past go, and move on to the joy of a life worth living.

The Standard we have over us in Christ is Jesus Himself, His blood that sets us free from sin’s death, whether our own sin or that of others done toward us. I thank God for His mercy poured out to me. And I pray the freeing power of Mercy’s grace toward those hurt so badly by the evil sin of rape.

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

The Unforgivable

“Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter; But whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an everlasting trespass. For they persisted in saying, He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30 AMPC)

This command / judgment through Christ tells us that those who sneer at and dismiss as hogwash the work of God’s Spirit through Jesus are eternally guilty and beyond saving grace. Denying that Jesus is who He says He is and did all reported of Him by the power of God is the unforgivable sin, blaspheming the work of God in the power and authority of His Holy Presence.

This passage also condemns the misrepresentation of God’s Spirit. Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. So for one to claim a work of the Spirit erroneously or to fail to give credit to the Spirit righteously, is dangerous. The question we must ask is whether the death and resurrection of Christ ended this Law, or does it stand today?

Of course, the requirement to recognize the work of God in Christ that provides saving grace as pictured in the scriptures stands. We must believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”; that “He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But what of the work of the Spirit in our day? Can we walk into dangerous territory through denial of the Spirit working in God’s people today? I believe we can.

Scripture teaches that when we come into Christ through salvation, we receive His Spirit as teacher, guide, and power for service. It is Him working in and through us that gives us any ability to accomplish the work and way of God.

Scripture teaches that those who follow Christ in the power and equipping of the Spirit of God are His representatives, having authority and power as ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God to carry on the work of Jesus through the ages.

When someone refuses our authenticity in Christ, Jesus takes it personally. When Jesus directs our lives, instructing our hearts to know His will in a situation, and someone accuses us of hearing and acting out the demonic, the insult is counted as against Christ and His work through the Spirit.

We must be careful in our judgment concerning the way of God seen in our day. Scripture teaches to judge the fruit produced. God’s Word teaches that a word of instruction from Him is known true when it comes to pass, accomplishing His desire and purpose.

Take care against condemning the work and way of God in others. Though our unbelief may not be so severe as to lose The Eternal, it will hurt our witness and it can work division in the Body.

Matthew 7:15-20 NASB

See also Matthew 10:14; John 13:20; Luke 10:16

Kingdom Currency

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 NASB)

This verse compares the “weightier provisions” of God’s Law with the currency of the tithe. I am struck by the NASB’s wording regarding these weightier things, calling them God’s provision for us. The combination of wording and the object of comparison makes one think that the currency of God’s Kingdom is the weightier things of God’s Law: justice, mercy, faithfulness, love, righteousness, grace, goodness, etc.

The actions of the faith lay up treasures in heaven for us, Beloved. God has given these to us for our use. These are not to be hoarded, but produce the greatest treasure when liberally spent / applied to life.

Where do you need to overcome fleshly tendencies and spend a little Kingdom currency today? Hear that! The register of the Father, chiming heavenly sounds of rejoicing with each deposit to your account.

“”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

A Focus On Light: The Cleansing Power of Light

“… 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 NASB)

Before pressing on from this passage, we must take a moment to acknowledge the cleansing power of walking with God in the Light of fellowship. When we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with God and with God’s people. In this place, the cleansing of Christ in us is made evident. And the continual cleansing of Christ in us becomes part of our everyday walk with God, who takes us deeper into Him with each spiritual step forward, placing in us the freedom from sin Christ bought for us to possess through Him.

Fellowship with God is one proof of cleansing, because God, who is Light and is Good, cannot mix with darkness – or evil. Light DISPELS (banishes, eliminates, or pushes away) the darkness (evil).

There is a statement made of the disciples that I believe fits here. It always grabs me and leads me to pray it for my life.

“Now as THEY observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and BEGAN TO RECOGNIZE THEM AS HAVING BEEN WITH JESUS.” (Acts 4:13 NASB)

When we live in the Light as God is in the light, our relationship with Jesus is evident. Our lives reveal us to be a person after God’s own heart, in Christlike personality, choices, and purposes. The way we talk and behave becomes evidence of our close walk with Him.

None of us will draw in close enough to see God’s face on this side of Glory. As long as we are in these flesh bodies, the spirit of flesh will have its stubborn battles, contending against the Spirit of God. But I believe that the Father will never stop wooing us deeper into the Light of His Presence, where freedom from sin increases to us through Christ our Lord.

Freedom from sin and sins effect on our lives is vital for our health and wellbeing, and to our witness and effective service. Come into the Light of fellowship with Father, in the power of the Spirit through Christ our Lord, and be free.

Finding Our Independence Day

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15 NASB

Forgiveness is very important to me. Since the day God showed me that my choosing to forgive another is for my own sake, just as we see Him choose to forgive Israel in Isaiah 43:25, He has called me to be a voice, encouraging true forgiveness. Choosing to forgive protects who we are, preventing our becoming something we don’t want to be, and it secures the course of our life for the good we are set to achieve.

Today, as I read this passage, Father brings to mind the movie, Independence Day. In it, we find a character portraying a military veteran who is believed crazy because of his story about once being kidnapped by aliens.

In the movie, our veteran is the hero who gives up his life to bring down the alien enemy. Before that, what we see is a man who is eat up by his experience. Drunken most of the time, he loses work, becomes the laughing stock of the town, and is near to losing his eldest son who is embarrassed and fed up with his dad’s drunken inadequacies.

When it comes time and opportunity for our hero to prepare to be part of the fighting force against the alien attack, we discover the true reason for the man’s drunken failure, as he announces that, since his kidnapping, he’s been looking for opportunity to delve out some payback. This fictitious character is a perfect example of why it is important to forgive “for my own sake,” which truly works for the sake of everyone around us.

Unforgiveness does great harm to our ability to have good relationships. It can hinder our ability to be the people of worth God desires for us. It can and will destroy our effectiveness in life, making us of little use to a God of Love. Unforgiveness can cut our life short in our pursuit of some sense of retribution. And, the thing I learned from God is that choosing to forgive protects us from falling short of loving others in sacrificial ways.

In our story found in the Independence Day movie, the thing that led our hero to sacrifice His life was less the want of payback he professed desire for and spent many drunken days looking for. Sobering up so he could do the job required of him, in those final moments, it is not desire for payback that leads to his decisive sacrifice. Instead he found the desire to protect the lives of those he loved.

That is what I discern in the proclamation of God found in Isaiah 43:25. He forgave for His own sake so that He would stay the course of protecting the people out of which His Christ would come. For the sake of fulfilling His purpose in providing saving grace for the world, He chose, for His own sake, to forgive Israel, even though their sin against Him begged for payback.

God may get us to the right motive for our last breath effort to love others, but what a waste that comes from the moment we choose unforgiveness to the detriment of our character, hindering our path to the fulfillment of the purpose of our life. Don’t let unforgiveness steel your in-between opportunity for a life worth living. Choose the love that forgives for one’s own sake, and find in that your Independence Day victory over bitterness, anger, drunkenness, etc.

Soul Cleansing

The following is a teaching done by my friend, Sara. It is powerful and freeing. You will need about an hour for it, so bookmark the page where you can find it when time permits. You will not feel the hour a loss. BLESSings, Beloved.

Soul Cleansing

It Begins in the Heart

“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. …The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will SEE that you are called by the name of the Lord… The LORD will make you abound in prosperity… The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. …” Deuteronomy 28:1, 9-14 NASB

A promise to the nation of Israel, yes; and we come under it through the bloodline of Christ. As a nation that has professed Christianity, making us one nation under God, we trust the promises of God are true for us who believe. In that faith, the world has long known us as a Christian nation and are shocked when they see we struggle as they do, and sometimes much worse.

Drought in large portions of our nation; fires bringing great destruction; some of the largest disasters in our history; and the political atmosphere, economic issues, cultural division, and ever rising national debt! Our scripture tells us that others “see” that we bear the name of the Lord by the obedience we give to His will done His way, thus, reaping the blessings He sends. Suffice to say, our nation is symptomatic of one who no longer understands the nuances of bearing the name of the Lord.

This passage in Deuteronomy 28 (above) and the call to prayer in 2 Chronicles 7 (pictured and quoted below) make clear the expectation God has in us being known by His name, but what does that mean? It is obviously something that can be observed by others. What does that look like?

Second Chronicles 7:14 reveals that those called by His name sincerely seek Him with repentant hearts that turn away from wicked ways. Repentance flows out of a heart after God’s own heart, desiring Him above all and choosing to follow His will instead of our own. This heart is the soil from which the image of God grows and matures, bringing about the bearing of the fruit of His Spirit in us.

That fruit born out of relationship with God blesses us first with increased strength in that vital relationship. Keeping God first, our love relationship with God sustains us. That relationship empowers all else: right and blessed relationships with others – mates, children; parents, siblings; employers, co-workers, employees; neighbors, friends, strangers, and other nations. Right and good relationships reveal God and His BLESSings in a people and their land.

God promises that He blesses those who abide in relationship with Him in this fruit bearing way. He supplies weather conditions that produce crops to feed us. He supplies work through which we gain wealth. He provides strength, wisdom, and prowess that makes our nation strong against any would-be enemy. He blesses the nation and its people, so they may lend, but never have to borrow.

If we want our nation to stand strong again, it begins in the heart. And that begins with knees bent in surrendered repentance to a Holy God we want and know the need of above all other desires.

“If…My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

A Word for Today: LOVE

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our focal verse may seem not to fit the word for today, but bear with me a moment while I explain.

Remember the parable of Christ when He described the day all will stand before Father as sheep separated from goats. I had a dream years ago about that, in which God allowed me to experience the position of the goat.

As we were ushered in to His presence, upon seeing the Father, we all were overwhelmed and filled to the full with understanding of His essence. Many, knowing their vehement rejection of Him, instantly knew they missed the boat; others who trusted a false salvation were just figuring out that they were on the wrong side of the gulf. The thing that overwhelmed us all was full understanding of God’s pure love for us even in that moment, and that we were finally complete – made whole by His love.

We watched as the names of saints were called one by one, greeted by Jesus, and ushered into His Kingdom by angels. Then came the time when the goats were cast into the outer darkness. I woke with realization that the hottest flame in eternal damnation will be the knowledge of never knowing God’s great love so clearly again.

God used that dream to call me to two major foci in ministry: one being the importance of calling others to the Cross of Christ before it’s too late; the other being the importance of making God’s love known now, while there is time to make an informed decision.

God calls us to be love as He is love. God is the love we are to have and walk in, allowing Him to be love in us, so people can see while they still have a chance of changing sides. This is why Jesus warned us, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (complete).” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB (author’s note)

The most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed is for God to be love in me, loving a person in my sphere of influence with His unfailing love. I say “dangerous” because when God answers that prayer – and He will do so to the sincere heart cry for it – no matter what that person we love does, our love for them does not stop. We keep knowing God’s love for that person as our own. We feel a portion of the pain God feels for those who refuse Him. Their rejection hurts, and it’s hard, and the love keeps pouring out for them with longing for a right and true relationship fueled by and filled with the unity that is only found in mutual relationship with the Father. Only the brave, with true love for the Father that desires His love be found by all who need it, can face the heart of rejection experienced by God’s love for all. Are you ready to love in Jesus’s Name? He will supply the power for it, if you are willing to walk in His love-supply for all.

My prayer for us today, Beloved, is for our Strength to go forth and love in Jesus’s Name and in the power of His supply before time runs out. The eternal clock is ticking.

Free Indeed

For some reason, Lord, as I read this verse in Psalm 147, I think of repentance. How greatly we need You if we are truly to repent.

You, Father, see and know the heart to greater depths of understanding than we can even begin to fully fathom. Only You can help us know the true issue of heart that keeps us snared in habits of sin.

I keep thinking of how weak willed I am, frustrated in areas of struggle I feel powerless to change. The thing I discern right now is my need to stop striving against what I see in my struggle and begin sincerely seeking Your revelation of the heart of my struggle. I need You, Lord.

So search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

What freedom we possess when we trust in You, Lord. Oh, my soul, take a breath and rest in God.

In Jesus and for Your glory I pray, amen.

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NASB

Remove Satanic Advantage

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB

The example of forgiveness given us by God is to forgive “for my own sake”, just as God did in Isaiah 43:25. In the midst of Israel’s sin, God chose to forgive for His own sake, and we are instructed to forgive as God forgives (Ephesians 4:32).

The main reason to forgive, expressed in this 2 Corinthians passage, is so that Satan cannot take advantage of the situation to do harm to the cause of Christ. Forgiveness “for my own sake” protects me from bitterness, anger, and a slew of other negative emotions that lead to my own sin against God, through lack of love, failure to trust God to tend to the offender, and other bad fruits born out of lack of forgiveness.

Our forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of their sin. It leaves those consequences to God, for Him to tend to, and frees us to go on with life, free of the influence those negative emotions can have on our bodies, minds, and soul. It frees us to live a life of peace that glorifies God and bears the fruit of righteousness.

Though forgiveness can aid in continuing relations with those we love, forgiveness does not mean we must maintain relationship with the offender. Bad company corrupts good morals, and wisdom let’s us know when we need to remove a person from our midst. Forgiveness simply lets go of the insult and let’s God tend to the offender.

What do you need to forgive today, surrendering it to God, so you can press forward in peace? Bow to God now, and lay it at His feet.

“‘Be still, cease striving, let be and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Psalms 46:10-11, (multiple versions)

Repentance That Works

There are two types of repentance: worldly repentance and godly repentance. Godly repentance works the will of God, and that is what we want.

Worldly repentance is:

Self-centered – repentance flowing out of worldly concern (must change before I lose my job…my ministry…their love/respect).

Insincere – having a hardened heart to sin, repentance is only for show.

Insecure – believing God delivers from the penalty of sin, but we are still enslaved to the sin nature with no hope of freedom in this life.

Godly Repentance is:

Relational – concerned about pleasing God and protecting relationship with Him; and because of right relations with God, desiring to protect relationships with others.

Transforming – knowing that we not only possess the righteousness of Christ in the Spirit, but that the Spirit is with us, to empower our righteous acts accomplished through surrendered lives.

Eternal – knowing that God loves us at all times and will bring us into His eternal Kingdom because of Jesus, while also realizing that we are His representatives in our here and now, called and equipped as His image bearers to reveal Him to the world. Godly repentance truly desires to surrender to God’s work of making us into His image.

True repentance comes to those who know that God has a good work for us as individuals, beginning with us being His image bearers. Surrendered living with sincere effort to conform to His transforming power leads to accomplishing His purpose.

True repentance surrenders to eternal purpose through trusting faith that knows “nothing shall be impossible with God”, who so greatly desires a love relationship with us that He gave His only begotten Son to have it. And have it, He will, for His Word succeeds at accomplishing His purpose.

Take God at His Word and repent from a godly stance of faith made sure in Him.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:12-13 NASB

Possess That Perfection 

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A FB friend wrote a post on this Philippians passage encouraging us to possess the full treasure of God’s grace and provision to, in, and through us, (see link below). My thoughts in giving an example of possessing all that is ours through Christ, flows out of hers. I’ve probably posted similar before. In this day and age, with the trouble we see in this world, I cite Paul:“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On to our example of possession: 

We are called to love as God loves. If we are to love others as He loves us – unconditionally and incorruptibly, then we must fully possess the love He provides us to walk out. 

God IS Love. He loves out of who He is. His love is not dependent on who we are or what we do. It depends fully on the fact of who He is; thus, Jesus paid the full price for ALL and the grace available through that sacrifice of love is held out as a gift to receive and possess as one’s own. 

The only thing about God’s love that is dependent on us is the degree to which we choose to receive it. Once we receive His Love, He has provided for us to possess that same love ability as our own through His Holy Spirit. As we possess and work out of that fruit of the Spirit expressed best in Galatians 5:22-23, we love as He loves, out of WHO WE ARE IN THE SPIRIT we possess for ourselves as He possesses us. 

He provides love for our possession so we may BE LOVE on His behalf, being His love to those He places in our sphere of influence on any given day. Thus, love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is not something we have to learn. It is something we possess as our own, flowing out of THAT which flows into us. And we possess it by letting God’s Holy Spirit fully possess us. 

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 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.” James‬ ‭4:6-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When we possess Him who possesses us, things like bitterness, hate, and unforgiveness find “no room at the inn” of our heart’s dwelling place.

Michelle Gray

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.