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Live Forgiven

To me, one of the saddest things anyone has said is, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve said and done.” That’s a pretty strong statement and it’s usually spoken out of hurt and anger. It’s meant to hurt and cut to the core the way that person has been hurt. If you’ve ever spoken them or had them spoken to you, you understand. The problem is it creates bitterness and hate within a person. Pain mixed with a grudge is an incubator for anger. Nothing good comes from situations where one side isn’t forgiven.

If you’ve had those words spoken to you because of something you’ve said or done, and you’re truly sorry, it’s also difficult to handle. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us hurts other people whether intentional or not. When we’ve said or done the unforgivable, and the other person won’t release us, we can either spend a lifetime trying to prove how truly sorry we are or we can walk away knowing we’ve done our part. Either way, there’s an incompleteness to being unforgiven.

In Matthew 12, a Pharisee said some hurtful things to Jesus. He accused Him of being demon possessed and that His power came from Satan. After Jesus explained to him how a house divided can’t stand, He then addressed the sin inside the man. In verse 31, Jesus said, “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven” (MSG). That’s a powerful statement that you and I need to grasp and meditate on today. Read it again.

There is nothing you can do or say that can’t be forgiven by God. No matter how bad or how wrong, He’ll never say He can’t forgive you. If you’ve been holding back asking forgiveness for something, I want you to release it today. Get rid of that incompleteness that’s created from unforgiveness, and be made whole at the cross. God isn’t human. He doesn’t hold grudges or harbor resentment against us for things we’ve said or done and been forgiven of. Give it to God and be set free today.

Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash

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Living In Grace

Have you ever failed God by sinning? Did you feel like you let Him and yourself down? If you’re human, then the answer is yes. When we sin, we feel that same shame that Adam and Eve felt in the Garden of Eden. We want to hide ourselves, and cut ourselves off from God for a while. We tend to punish ourselves and beat ourselves up when we mess up. I know that i do all of these things when I sin. Then, a voice reminds me about grace.

Grace is one of those things that the human brain has a hard time understanding. Our whole lives we’ve been conditioned to get punished when we do something wrong. When someone else doesn’t punish us for doing wrong, we tend to punish ourselves mentally. But grace doesn’t do that. It comes and offers God’s unmerited favor of salvation and the covering of sin for free. It’s foreign to how our mind works, but we are called to live by grace through faith.

When Paul was on one of his missionary journeys, a town asked him to speak in the synagogue. Some accepted this grace, and others rejected it. They were used to having to pay for their own sins, and couldn’t accept that someone else had. To those who did accept it, Paul encouraged them. In Acts 13:43 it says, “The apostles spoke to them and encouraged them to keep on living in the grace of God” (GNT). That’s a great word for you and I today too. Keep on living in the grace of God.

The next time you sin or fail God, thank God for His grace, seek forgiveness and ask Him to help you to turn from it. No matter how many times you fail God, His grace will always be sufficient. No matter how bad you sin, the blood of Jesus is strong enough to wash it white as snow. Quit beating yourself up and cutting yourself off from God. Accept what Jesus did for you and keep on living in the grace of God.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

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Being Reconciled 


One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Goonies. There a scene when the kids are going down the fireplace to search for the treasure, and they send Chunk to get help. Chunk runs to the street to wave down a car, but he ends up waving down the Fratelli’s car. They take him back to their hideout and question him. “Tell us everything,” they demand. Chunk starts to cry and says, “In third grade, I…,” and he goes on for several to tell them every bad thing he ever did. 

As a kid, he had a long list of all the things he did wrong. Can you imagine how long our lists would be as adults? If God said, “Tell me everything,” it would take days for some of us to list out all the bad things we’ve done in our lives. Part of our problem is that many of us think about that list too often and allow it to either keep us from accepting God’s forgiveness or we allow it to hold us back from ever doing anything from God.

I wonder if the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 130 was one who struggled with their past. I think they found their breakthrough though. In verses 3 and 4 they wrote, “If you kept a record of our sins, who could escape being condemned? But you forgive us, so that we can stand in awe of you” (GNT). God looks at those lists we create of all our wrongdoing, and He says, “I forgive you. Forgive yourself.” He doesn’t keep a record of it once and forgives it and neither should we. 

We recently had a guest speaker at church who spoke on forgiving other people. He said, “Forgiveness takes one, but reconciliation takes two.” It’s a powerful statement and was directed towards us and others, but I think it works towards God too. He’s already forgiven us of our past. When we accept His forgiveness and what Jesus did on the cross, we can be reconciled and all those wrongs on that list are gone with one drop of Jesus’ blood. 

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Drop Your Stones


One of the most intriguing stories in the Bible is the woman the Pharisees brought before Jesus who had been caught in adultery. With stones in their hands, they told Jesus that the Law of Moses commanded them to stone her for her sin. Then, in John 8:5, they asked Jesus, “What do you say?” (NLT) I love that Jesus went back to what He was doing, which was drawing in the sand like He was bored. They demanded an answer from Him. He looked up and said, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” One by one, they dropped their stones and walked away.

I love this story because if any one of us had been there, we would have had a stone in our hand too. At the same time, each of us has stood where that woman stood. Each of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Even though we’ve been forgiven a great debt, we still pick up stones to throw at others who sin. It’s time we quit carrying stones, and started being thankful that God not only forgives our sins, but the sins of others. If God’s grace was sufficient for our sins, it’s sufficient for theirs. 

Here are some Bible verses on grace and forgiveness.

1. When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? She answered, No one, Lord! And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.
John 8:10-11 AMPC

2. In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
Matthew 6:14-15 MSG

3. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

4. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22 GNT

5. And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 AMPC

6. My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

James 5:19-20 MSG

7. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
Mark 11:25 AMPC

8. We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt, Our sins too much for us— but you get rid of them once and for all. 
Psalm 65:2-3 MSG

9. If you want people to like you, forgive them when they wrong you. Remembering wrongs can break up a friendship.
Proverbs 17:9 GNT

10. There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 GNT

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The Power Of The Resurrection

  

Several years ago, I had the incredible privilege to celebrate Good Friday at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. As I attended the sunrise service, I kept staring over at the door to the tomb. I imagined the size of the rock that once covered that entrance. I pictured Mary weeping just a few feet away. I wondered what direction Peter and John came running from. It was surreal to be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus by the tomb that once held Him. As the sun came up, my mind turned its attention to the Angels who were there and the message they gave to all who came to that place.

Mark 16:6 records them as saying, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” All of christianity hinges on that last statement.  I Corinthians 15:14 says, “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. (NLT)” Jesus didn’t come just to die. He came to rise again. He wasn’t just going to be crucified for our sins, He was going to be raised from the dead to give us life. His resurrection brought life where Adam’s sin brought death. Jesus defeated the power of death the moment He burst out of that tomb.

In Luke 24:5, the Angels asked the women, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” Jesus had told them He would be raised on the third day, so why were they visiting the borrowed tomb with spices to embalm Him? They were looking for a crucified Jesus instead of a resurrected Jesus. Their message goes out to us today. Quit looking for the right thing in the wrong place. Our Lord was crucified, but He rose from the dead. You don’t have to go to a tomb to find Him. He left the place of the dead so that He could walk with you today among the living. 

The final thing I thought about as I sat there came from Mark 16:7. The angel said, “Now go tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.” My favorite part is where he said, “including Peter”. After Peter denied Jesus, I’m sure he no longer felt like a disciple. I’m sure he was beating himself up for the mistake he made. The Angels wanted to make sure he knew that he was still loved and considered by God as a disciple. They sent him a clear message that he was forgiven no matter what he did. 

Too many times we beat ourselves up over sins we have committed. We think keep ourselves from the grace that has been given to us because we beat ourselves up. While Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for your sin, His resurrection gives you new life after it. You can put your name in that message where Peter’s name is. The Angels are speaking to you too, they are saying you are loved, you are forgiven and Jesus is waiting for you. All He’s asking is that you trust the power of the resurrection, that you leave the cemetery of your past and that you move ahead where He is waiting for you.

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I Love Mondays

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Did you ever read the “Garfield” comic strips? He was famous for saying, “I hate Mondays.” That resonated with so many people. Cubicals everywhere had a picture of him with a coffee mug and that expression on it. Now the saying is all over people’s Facebook page on Mondays. It doesn’t resonate with me though. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my weekends, but Mondays to me are a fresh start. The old week is gone, the new week is here and I get new challenges. The meetings will begin shortly after I log in, the todo list will be built and the week will be set up. Now that I think about it, I kind of like Mondays.

Ok, so maybe you don’t enjoy them like I do. To me, it’s all about perspective. The attitude with which you start your day will determine how you act throughout it. Fridays seem to be more enjoyable because your starting attitude is different. There are only 8 hours standing between you and the weekend and so you have this expectancy, this hope that gets you through with a smile on your face. I believe every day should be that way. I believe the attitude I choose each morning is what determines the outcome of my day.

In the month of November, several of my friends post something they’re thankful for each and every day. They often say that November is their favorite month. Coincidence? A heart full of gratitude is one that has a positive outlook. Each morning I try to find something to be thankful for. Some days, I’m just thankful I’m breathing. Other days, there are so many blessings that it’s hard to choose from. No matter what, I’m always thankful that God’s mercy is new every morning. I’m thankful that each day is a blank slate with God. I wake up forgiven for the mistakes I made yesterday because I’ve asked for it and I don’t have to worry that God is going to hold hem against me.

If God doesn’t hold it against me after I’ve asked for forgiveness, then I need to release myself from the guilt as well. Most of the time that my attitude is wrong is because I hold myself in some kind of penance purgatory. It’s as if God’s forgiveness wasn’t enough. It’s as if it was too easy to find new mercy this morning so I have to make sure I have a bad day to make up for my sin. You can’t earn God’s grace that way! He’s already paid the price for what you did yesterday. Once it’s forgiven and He’s forgotten it, you need to release yourself to be free in His mercy.

Don’t hate today because it’s Monday. Love it because He has granted you forgiveness from your past and has new mercy for you today. Don’t hold yourself back from the potential that today holds because of something you’ve been forgiven of. Release yourself to find joy in the new day and be open to see how God can use the mistakes of your yesterdays for His glory. You have the power to wake up today (and tomorrow) and say, “Thank you, God, that your mercies are new every morning. I don’t hate today because of what it stands for. I love it because of what you’ve done for me.” Try it and see if an attitude adjustment doesn’t make Mondays or any other day better.

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Love With All Your Soul

And you must love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. – Mark 12:30

If loving God with all your heart was about being passionate again in your relationship with Him, then loving Him with all your soul is about loving Him with who you are. I looked up the Greek word “soul” used in this scripture to help give context and the word was “psyche”. It includes your conscious and subconscious self. I believe Jesus was telling us that our love for Him should permeate our entire being. It should be second nature to us.

I’m reminded of the woman who came and wept at Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair. People were watching in shock as she did it. They couldn’t believe Jesus was allowing this sinful woman to touch Him. He turned to them in Luke 7: 44-47 and told them that they had not offered him water for His feet nor greeted Him with a kiss. He then made the point that the person who is forgiven most, loves most and whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

When Jesus comes into our lives and forgives us of sins we have committed, it should change who we are and how we love. II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone who belongs to Christ becomes a new person. Our old life is gone and a new life begins. The extent to which we realize what we’ve been saved from is how much we will love God with who we are. If Christ has forgiven us, then He has saved us from the same fate no matter how big or how small our sins were. We should love Him unconditionally based on that, but Jesus made a point to show that the size of our debt has to do with the size of our love.

Many of us have been forgiven for a great deal of sin. Some of us have been forgiven a small amount if sin. Either way, we have all sinned and were condemned to hell. Now that we have been forgiven, how do we express that love with who we are? Have we let that forgiveness come into our psyche and change us as a person? Have we become a new person that is different from the old one? God doesn’t just want our passion, He wants who we are to love Him. He wants our love for Him to emanate from our very being.

Letting His love change our psyche means we have to let go of the past that is tied to our old psyche. You can’t change what you’ve done in the past, but you can let Him forgive you of it and you can forgive yourself for it. When you’ve learned to do that, you will see that who you are will begin to change. You will become more like He is and grow into the person He wants you to become. Let go of the old life today. Embrace the new life He is giving you and love Him with who you are. That’s loving God with all your soul.

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