Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiven To Forgive

There was a guy that I knew in my teens that I didn’t like much. He did things at other people’s expense, was cocky and rude. Then, about ten years ago, I got a friend request from him. I accepted it skeptically. He started posting ministry photos and such. In my heart I thought, “What’s his angle? Who is he trying to fool?” I questioned his motives every time I saw him talk about Jesus or a photo of the work He was doing for the Kingdom. I even showed my wife the photos and told her about him. As I was scoffing one night, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and asked, “Do I hold your past against you? How can you hold someone else’s past against them when I’ve forgiven them?” I had to let it go and forgive him. I even called him to discuss it with him and ask his forgiveness.

When I think of stories of someone forgiving a serious wrong, I think of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 32. Jacob stole his brothers blessing and took advantage of him in a desperate situation to get his birthright. Esau was so angry that he wanted to kill his brother. Jacob left town and disappeared for years. When it was time to come home, there was fear in the back of his mind about what Esau would do to him. Instead of being angry, Esau ran to embrace him. He had forgiven him long before, but never had the opportunity to express it. Jacob was still unsure and didn’t trust his brother, but ultimately accepted his forgiveness. I’m not sure when Esau decided to forgive Jacob, but when he did, a huge burden had to have been lifted.

Ephesians 4:32 instructs us, “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love” (TPT). One of the hardest things we have to do as Christians is to forgive someone who wronged us. We’re not God so we can’t see their heart to see if they’ve changed, but even still we’re told to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. Forgiveness is truly a key that opens the door and releases us more than them. It may not restore the relationship (some don’t need to be reconciled), but it will open us up to allow God to repair the emotional scars that were left behind. It doesn’t happen right away, but the healing can’t begin in our own life until we forgive. If you’re struggling to forgive someone, ask God to help you with that. Forgiveness is His specialty.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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Learning Through Pain

One of the mantras that I’ve heard for a while is, “Change before you have to.” I wasn’t always sure what that meant, but I’ve found out a few times in my life and wished I had. Many times the Holy Spirit has sounded the warning alarms in my life, and many of those times I’ve hit the snooze button. His warnings are letting us know that if we continue on the path we’re on, we’re headed for trouble. When I’ve disregarded them, I’ve fallen flat on my face and gone through some painful times as a result of my sin. Sometimes I’m so hard headed and want to do things my own way that the only way I’ll listen or make the necessary changes in my life are to go through a painful time so that next time I’ll listen. God is more concerned with our holiness than our comfort.

It’s hard to put some things in perspective as you read the Bible. In some books, you may cover hundreds of years of history. I keep thinking, “How did they mess up again so quickly? Why won’t they learn?” Yet, their track record is better than mine a lot of the times. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God said He sets before us life and death, blessings and cursing, and that the choice is ours. He wants us to choose life, but when we don’t, their are painful consequences to help us to turn back to Him and to remind us not to go down that path again. It works for a while, but our brains are bent toward trying to do things our way instead of His. Pain is often one of the best motivators for our brain, and it can condition it to not repeat mistakes.

God knows you and I aren’t perfect. He knows we’re going to mess up. Thankfully He doesn’t wipe His hands clean of us and give up. His grace is greater than our biggest mistakes and His offer of forgiveness is open to us. God will do whatever it takes to bring us back, even if it means pain, discomfort or embarrassment. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). He knows there are a lot of stubborn people like myself who need those painful reminders to come back home. The Prodigal Son lasted in his painful experience as long as he could before he finally decided to go back home. You and I have the same opportunity to return to a waiting Father who will run to us, love us and put the family robe and ring back on our finger if only we will return.

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Mercy And Healing

Have you ever done something wrong and then tried to cover it up? Of course you have. You’re human. There’s something inside of us that think if we cover it up, no one will know and it will go away. I’ve been trying it since I was a kid. In fact, my friends and I once started a fire when we were young. When it started smoking a lot, we tried to cover it up…with dried up pine needles. The fire roared even bigger. Instead of asking an adult for help, we went to my friend’s brother who was only two years older. By the time he realized he couldn’t put it out either, a neighbor saw the blaze and called the fire department who came and prevented a huge forest fire. By then, there was still significant damage we could have avoided had we confessed sooner.

I’ve found that people are more willing to forgive your shortcomings when you’re open and honest about them. But there’s this voice in our heads that creates doubts and insecurities in us. It tells us, “If they knew this about you, they would never talk to you.” When we listen to that voice, we choose to cover up our sins, failures and shortcomings which compounds the problem. We know it doesn’t work, but we try anyway thinking we might get away with it this time. The temptation to cover things up is such a challenge that it’s often more tempting than the temptation to sin. The problem is that sin covered up is unconfessed sin.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “If you cover up your sin you’ll never do well. But if you confess your sins and forsake them, you will be kissed by mercy” (TPT). We confess our sins to God for forgiveness. We confess them to others for healing. We need to get better at showing people mercy for their confessed sins. That’s the only way to break this cycle of covering up sins. We all sin, and we all need mercy and grace from each other. Jesus said it was the merciful who will obtain mercy. Let mercy start with you today.

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People Of Restoration

Have you ever made a mistake or messed up? Ever have anyone not let you forget it? It’s bad enough that we all make mistakes, but it’s worse when it’s public and we can’t live it down. Sometimes it makes you the butt of other people’s jokes, and sometimes it’s what keeps you from getting ahead. Each time you try to advance, there’s someone holding that over your head reminding you of that one time you messed up and that’s why they can’t trust you. It can be frustrating to be in that position, but I think it’s worse to be the person who is holding another person’s mistake against them. Grace is something we all expect from others, but rarely give someone else. We judge others by their mistakes, but want them to judge our mistakes by our intentions. It’s time we implemented the Golden Rule when it comes to mistakes people make.

Can you imagine how Peter felt when he publicly denied Jesus a couple of hours after saying he would never do that? Luke 22:61 says that when Peter denied Jesus a third time, Jesus turned and looked at him. How do you come back from that? It’s no wonder Peter wanted to go back to his old life after Jesus was crucified. He was so used to people holding his mistakes against him that he thought being the Rock of the Church was out the window. I love that Jesus introduced him to grace and asked him three times if he loved Him. It took a while for Jesus to get through to him that his mistake had been overlooked and that Jesus wouldn’t dwell on it. He restored the friendship in that conversation and reinstated Peter’s future. Jesus didn’t just do that for Peter’s benefit. He was giving us a model to emulate.

Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships” (TPT). Who do you need to release today? Who’s failure have you been dwelling on and holding it against them? If Jesus hasn’t held your past mistakes against you, how can you hold someone’s against them? We are people of restoration. We are people of forgiveness. It’s time we began to live like that instead of the way our flesh wants us to live. Holding someone’s past against them makes you the warden and them your prisoner, but love overlooks the mistakes of others. If we’re to be known for our love, we’re to be known for letting go of people’s past mistakes.

Side note: We’re also to be people who are wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It doesn’t mean we give them full access and carte blanche. Use wisdom in providing a way forward to rebuild trust and to help them advance rather than to hold them in one place forever. We are Biblically called to forgive everyone, but not necessarily to reconcile with everyone. There’s a difference. Forgiveness frees them and you from the mistake. Reconciliation restores the relationship. Sometimes forgiveness is all you can do, and that’s ok.

Thanks to Jachan DeVol @jachan_devol for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

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Freedom In Releasing

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A Spiritual Examination

I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to go to the doctor. He says, “Every time I go, they find something wrong.” Isn’t that the point? If there’s something wrong, wouldn’t you want to know about it? For some people, if the problem isn’t exposed, it doesn’t exist. So if they don’t go to doctor and have the tests run, they aren’t really sick. That’s the wrong way to think about things. If you have a sickness and there’s a cure, wouldn’t you want that sickness exposed so the disease doesn’t run its course?

To some of you, what I just described sounds crazy. Others of you can identify with it. Whichever side you’re on, the truth is that many of us think the way my friend does when it comes to sin in our lives. We don’t want to shed light on it or expose it, much less have a test run to prove it exists in our body. If there’s something wrong spiritually with you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t you want to get it cured?

David fell into the group that wanted to go to the doctor often and have tests run to make sure nothing was wrong. In Psalm 26:2 he prayed, “Examine me, GOD, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out” (MSG). He wasn’t afraid to have God shine His light into every dark corner of his life. He knew that sin likes to lay hidden in our lives unexposed. It tells us to pretend we are perfect and nothing is wrong. The truth is that all of us are infected with sin, and the way we rid ourselves of it is to expose it to the light of God’s Word.

If we truly want to live the lives God has called us to, we can’t be afraid to go to The Doctor and have Him test our lives. God will not condemn us for having Him expose our sins. Instead, He will be faithful to forgive us and to lead us down His paths. We can’t be afraid that He will find something wrong with us or what others will think. There’s a cure for the sin that’s holding us back and it’s free. Jesus already paid the price for our sin and has written out the prescription. Ask God today to examine you so you can be fit inside and out.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Esau’s Hidden Blessing

Genesis 27 contains a story many of us are familiar with. It’s where Jacob steals Esau’s blessing. I remember hearing this story as a child and wondering why Isaac couldn’t give Esau a blessing too. To tell the truth, I still don’t understand why he couldn’t do something. In verse 38, Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me too!” Isaac began to tell him what all he had given to his brother. I’m sure each blessing was a dagger to the heart since they were meant for him.

Isaac then spoke the opposite of the blessing of Jacob to Esau. He told him that he would live far away from the riches of the earth and away from Heaven’s dew. He told him he would live by the sword and would serve his brother. The way he ended it was curious to me though. He said, “However it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (AMP) To me, that was a blessing hidden in there. He would only serve his brother until he decided not to. I think that his anger was so blinding that he missed it though.

Instead of breaking free, he allowed anger to rule his life and his decisions. He started doing the opposite of what he had been taught. In fact, he went out and married a woman from Canaan because he knew his father didn’t like them. When we are hurt by someone, all we want to do is hurt them back. We say things and do things that we think will stick it to them the way they stuck it to us. Esau was no exception. He decided to let anger rule his decision making and ultimately his way of life.

When we act like that, we are letting the other person rule us. We quit making decisions based on our good and instead make them on what we think will do the most harm to another. We quit trying to find ways to help ourselves advance and only find ways to make the other person retreat. We put ourselves in a prison, lock the doors and hand the keys to the person that hurt us. I understand that even less than why Isaac couldn’t bless Esau as well. I’ve been angry and hurt enough to want to act that way, but not to the point where it controlled every decision for a long period of time. I didn’t want to give anyone that kind of power over me.

If you’re in that position now, the blessing given to Esau is a blessing for you. “When you break loose [from your anger and hatred], That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him].” The choice is yours to let it go. Quit wondering if they ever regret doing that to you. Quit wishing their life was horrible. Stop getting excited when you hear about bad things that happen to them. Those thoughts keep you locked in prison. Decide to let it go. I know that easier said than done. I’ve had to do it myself. The only way you break free from that life is to let go. When you do, the yoke will fall off, your life will begin to have a greater purpose and will flourish again.

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, the plane could arrive miles from its destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and have walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in our lives who can give us guidance and the information we need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there is important. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life you can. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Bringing Us Back

David had two sons from different wives. One son raped the sister of the other son. A couple years later, he got his revenge and killed his half brother for what he had done. David was angry about the murder so the son fled. Now David was without two sons. Over time, they both longed to be reconciled, but neither wanted to move from their position. Another son devised a plan to get his brother back. Five years after the murder, David and his son reconciled, but the relationship was never the same. As humans, we have the capacity to forgive, but not to forget so our forgiveness is often very fragile.

One of the most amazing things about God is that He doesn’t care how far away we’ve wandered from Him, He always is willing to accept us back fully. In fact, He’s on the hunt for us like a shepherd looking for a lost sheep. It doesn’t matter how lost we are or what we got tangled up in, His desire is that we return to Him. That, to me, is amazing love. We, like the Prodigal Son, try to come up with reasons why He won’t accept us back as His children, but He’s watching and waiting to put the family seal on us and bring us back into the family. He has the capacity to forgive and forget because His love for us is so deep.

Here are some Bible verses on God’s desire to bring us back to Him.

1. All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

2 Samuel 14:14 NLT

2. So bring us back to loving you, God our Savior. Restore our hearts so that we’ll never again feel your anger rise against us.

Psalms 85:4 TPT

3. Bring us back to you, Lord! Bring us back! Restore our ancient glory.

Lamentations 5:21 GNT

4. You will preach to his people the revelation of salvation life, the cancellation of all our sins, to bring us back to God.

Luke 1:77 TPT

5. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

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Choosing Forgiveness

When you’ve been hurt by someone, you can either forgive them or you can hold a grudge. Holding a grudge makes you look at the chain reaction of what they did to you, and then blame them for how you ended up where you are. It creates “if / then” statements in your mind: “If they hadn’t done that to me, then I wouldn’t have been in this miserable place in life.” Anything bad that happens in your life gets blamed on them. Your mind becomes consumed with how bad things are, and you create a perpetual cycle of a downward spiral.

When you forgive someone for hurting you, you set your mind free. You no longer give that person power over you and the direction of your life. You are no longer consumed by the bitterness that creeps into every area of your life. You no longer dread waking up each day, and your perspective changes. You can look back at that moment and see how God used it to get you where you needed to be. You also quit despising the life you have, and begin to see it as a blessing.

If anyone ever had a reason to hold a grudge, it was Joseph. His brothers beat him, threw him in a cistern, and sold him as a slave. That event took him away from all he had known. His freedom and all he had were taken from him in an instant. He was accused and spent years in prison because of their betrayal. Bitterness could have linked it all together and made him hate his brothers. Instead, he chose forgiveness, and God blessed him for it.

Forgiveness is about remembering we aren’t perfect ourselves. We make mistakes and hurt others too. God wants us to give people room to make mistakes and then to forgive them. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). If you’ve held onto a grudge towards someone because they’ve hurt you, let it go and forgive them. Quit giving them control of your life and your mind. I’ve found that when we choose to forgive and give it to God, the things that have hurt us the most often become the things God can use the most effectively.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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