Forgiving One Another

Just a few days ago we, as believers in Christ, were celebrating His resurrection. We were rejoicing that Our God forgave us of all sin if we believed that his Son, Jesus – was truly the Christ; Our Redeemer. Forgiveness!!! We have shown ourselves to be so grateful!

If we have truly received the gift of grace given at Calvary – then it should not be a stretch for us to forgive others. We must always remember the great mercy shown us in the death of Christ and we must always endeavor to show that mercy in the world. We know what we have been saved from!! We know what state we were in when Christ redeemed us! We are required to be merciful as our brothers and sisters ask our forgiveness. This is not to say that we become doormats — but expressly that when someone offends us or enters into debt with us and asks for mercy — we cannot deny them.

An unwillingness to forgive one another places us in a position to pay the debt that Christ has already paid for us!

Father, I thank You for forgiving my sins and for taking away my sin debt. Give me a heart like Yours, so that I may have compassion and show mercy to those who ask for it. May the love of Christ dwell in me richly!!

Forgiveness and Blessing

I haven’t stolen anything; I haven’t killed anybody; I haven’t slept with anyone I’m not married to …. but I can surely confess that I have had thoughts about people that were not in line with the will of God on this day; I can surely confess that I’ve wanted something in my life that I do not have; I can surely confess that I’ve doubted even for a moment something that I know God can do.  And you know what?!?!  All of that is sin!!  But you know what?!?!  When I admonish my wrong and go before my Father seeking His face — He will forgive me and heal me of my sin and make me write before Him.  OH!  Hallelujah!  Bless His Holy Name!  Don’t miss your shout cue, y’all!

God’s people are not exempt from falling into sin.  In fact, it is overtly stated throughout scripture that there is none – not one – who does not sin.  However, as God’s people – His dearly beloved  – we can rest assured that when we sincerely repent from our sin; crying out to Him to forgive us and change us and and committing to change and turn from it – He will not only forgive and cleanse us – but He will surely bless us!

Even in the midst of your failures, don’t miss the promise of Our Father!!  It is His promise that He will grant the pleas of His people if they embody/demonstrate/prove a true heart for Him!

What must we do? Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek His face. Turn from our sin.  This promise was spoken to God’s people Israel, but I believe that as God’s people today this truth still applies.  When you sin (and you WILL sin) – submit to God’s authority; cry out to Him for forgiveness; listen for His direction for you; and commit to never go back to doing that thing and I believe that even when we sin grievously and find ourselves in the hand of our enemy – He will turn that thing around!

Our sin will surely bring with it unpleasant consequences but it is His good pleasure to bind up our wounds – even those He inflicts upon us.  Our pride will bring us to destruction – but if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand – He will exalt us in due time.  He knew we would falter – and He has always made a way for us to set things right with Him.  Forgiveness and blessing!  Who wouldn’t serve a God like that?!

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and 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 7:13, 14

Giving Up The Right to be RIGHT

Even the most humble among us has a desire to be right – or to be defended.

Our right to be right can totally overshadow our privilege to be loving!  Laying down our rights – It’s not natural — but it is godly. 

When we were on home assignment some years ago, there was a misunderstanding between a local pastor and what he thought was the intent of our youngest son to insult his son.  The principal of the school knew our son and knew this was a case of a missionary kid not understanding the culture of the USA – it happens!!  The boys were fine – but the father of the other child, a local pastor, was quite upset – so the principal suggested that we go to him and talk about what happened; perceptions versus reality. We went to this pastor to apologize for the misunderstanding and to keep this issue from escalating – this pastor’s response to us was, “I want my pound of flesh!”  And he said this with a SMILE!!!  It all worked out but this highlighted for Lloyd and I the depravity of even the best of us.  Oftentimes an apology is not enough! We want the wrong to be made right according to our own standards.   I’m so glad Christ didn’t feel that way!!  Oh Lord — can you imagine!!??!!

If you call yourself a follower of Christ you must – MUST be willing to take the hit.  If they call you a liar, it needs to be enough that you know you didn’t lie even if they print it in the paper and post it on Facebook.  If they take what is rightfully yours – you need to have enough faith in the Lord that He will provide what you need and that if there is to be be any vengeance, it belongs to him.  If they do cheat you (or cheat on you) – you have to forgive and not give in to your desire to spread the news far and wide that they are a cheat, instead praying that God will forgive and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.  It’s that whole concept  of giving them both your cloak and your coat – when they want to take your coat. 

We are known in America to be a litigious nation.  But as members of the Body of Christ — we need to decide to actually live like we were just in this world (sojourners) and not of this world (citizens).  Novel idea.  This really good looking preacher I know says these words to me and to his children often – “You have no right to be right and no one’s reputation matters but His.”  Think about it ..

My prayer is that my own heart will long for the world to see only Him in my actions and that I will be willing at all times to take the blame; take the fall; carry the weight — knowing that He will uphold me with His righteous right hand!!

Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?  1 Corinthians 6:7b

Divine Do Overs

DoOverBob Carlisle wrote a song back in 1996 that was made popular by Donnie McClurkin, “We Fall Down”. The song talks about a person discovering the grace of God in His failures – realizing even people of God made mistakes and the grace of God covered them and gave them a new start. We all have different testimonies – but all of us have made our share of mistakes – we have all said and done things that we later regretted and as we take a backwards look at our lives, we know it was the grace of God that kept us. As for me – I am amazed at how the Lord has kept me in spite of me! My testimony is that I faltered, but  because of His grace – it was never fatal!

God does not delight in our mistakes but He delights in our desire  to obey Him. Even when we falter, He sees our hearts and knows whether we are truly seeking His will or seeking to satisfy ourselves. When you desire to obey Him — when YOU desire to obey Him — when you DESIRE to obey Him — when you desire to OBEY Him; He will honor your obedience with His presence and power in your life!

Sometimes we step out in front of God; moving before we get his direction about something that seems urgent. What does stepping out in front of God look like?  It looks like:  getting something off our chests when we should’ve keep quiet; taking out a payday loan when we need to manage the funds we have; buying that sale item when we don’t really need to be spending; eating that last piece of pie when we know we don’t need it; getting into a relationship that we know is ungodly; compromising our morals because it seems like an easier way; etc.  When we move outside of His will, we are failing to exercise our right to rely on The One who will always guide us to the best action and decision for our lives. When we fail to follow His lead – we will miss out of His best for us.

The great thing about being a Christ follower is that because we are His chosen ones – we have access to His grace. Because we have access to His grace — we always have access to a course correction.  We might have to go back to the drawing board — but He will be there waiting to redirect us – to get us headed in the right direction.  He knew we were going to muddle things; He knew we couldn’t keep His commandments without His intervention; He knew that we would botch even His simplest commands — so, in His great love, He sent us a Savior! He gave us unlimited access to His grace!  When we mess up He has a giant eraser AND a beautiful paint canvass!  How awesome is that?!

Here’s the deal — we all make mistakes; but He, in His infinite kindness towards us, will always be willing to give us a do over. We can rest assured that as we trust in Him and seek to obey Him (seek to OBEY Him!); He will honor us with His direction and His presence in our situation. Take a step back from your situation; your temptation; your stressor — He will gladly guide you in the right way allowing you to start over because it gives Him great joy to bless your life when you are leaning on His understanding and not your own.

Our mistakes do not have to be fatal errors — we really can start over!  CTRL/ALT/DEL — reboot — start again.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. (‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭23‬)

Righteous Longing — He is the only Peace

righteousThis Advent season I have found my heart particularly desirous of His coming. My heart longs for errant thinking and behavior to be made right; for the bitter/rigid heart to be made light; the heart that is low to be lifted up; and the heart that is haughty to be brought to humility. I long to see the Kingdom of my God active and alive in this world! I long to see peace and love shine brightly within the Body of Christ.

I am one of those people that has to shut my brain down at night in order to sleep well. I don’t worry about things, but I am always thinking about the best ways to accomplish what is on my plate the next day; or thinking of a solution to an issue that one of our missionaries is having. But the last couple of weeks I have found that my mind has only been thinking of what needs to happen in order for there to be honesty, integrity and truth at the forefront in this world. God has answered me so clearly – it is His presence and His way that will make things right.

As a Christ follower, I am convicted that my desire should be for Him to be manifest in every situation rather than desiring for the situation to change. I should be pining away for Him in the midst of it all, because He is the one who is my Keeper. I was reminded that when I started in this new role Lloyd and I had to travel across East Africa in 9 weeks – and in that time we took 13 flights!! Across the ocean, across Africa — and we did not have one incident! He is our keeper – our caretaker! He was with us and all was well.

Further, as a Christ follower, I am convicted that I must see every circumstance as His will. That is a difficult one when things are horribly unjust and painful; but, as I endeavor to have the mind of Christ, have thoughts that are in unity with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); He makes it so. I don’t know, nor do I need to know, what God is doing in hard circumstances; but I am assured that nothing can happen in this world that does not pass through His hand. So, as I commit to seek His presence – I will not only know that He will care for me – but that He is working things out for my good and for His glory.

Lastly, I am reminded that we are not yet living in the new heaven and the new earth. In other words — living down here we have to contend with the enemy’s own form of crazy! Satan is loose, he is active, and he is very dangerous. His actions are a terrible distraction for us. Satan uses wickedness and hatred to cause us to focus on a particular situation in order that he might cause us to take our eyes off of our Lord! As a real life example, he is using the media to lull us into a belief that hate, brutality, racism, sexual immorality, greed, and MUCH MORE – or what this world has to offer. We do not have to accept that! We can believe what God has said — He Reigns! We don’t have to fight for holiness — we just have to live in holiness. We must commune and fellowship with God every dayI We must make the choice to serve Him and to live His way. He is speaking to our hearts and guiding us – but we must make the choice to listen.

I know that the troubles of today can consume our thoughts; I too want to see things set right. But I have the GOD sense to know that unless God enters in to a situation, it will never be made right.We can never be tricked into forgetting that our war is not with one another, but against the spiritual forces of wickedness — against our enemy, Satan, and all his demons.  We must remember always that our battle gear is spiritual and is meant to tear down Satan’s work and to bring about in the world lives of obedience –  make disciples.  So — my heart longs for Him — for Him to be present in the current situation — for His will to be carried out even if in doing so I have to experience pain. This world will never know what justice looks like until He is invited in to the process. Lord, have mercy on us all.

At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭26‬:‭9‬)