Forgiveness

The topic of forgiveness has been fascinating to research.  The first thing I did was to find the Greek word for forgiveness.  Aphiemi refers to the act of putting something away or letting it go, to abandon, leave it behind, and be done with it.  God’s aphiemi (forgiveness) is complete and total because of Jesus and the cross. He wants us to forgive like He does. 

The question is, do we? Are we even capable of that kind of forgiveness? Do we even want to be?

Why do you think it is difficult to forgive those who hurt you?

What is your forgiveness factor? Do you forgive easily? Do you hold on to grudges forever? Do you move on easily? Here’s a little quiz.  Each question is worth up to 10 points.  If you agree with the statement, give yourself 10 points.  If it’s maybe 5 points.  If it’s a no way, won’t even consider it, give yourself a 0.  Ready?

  1. I never pray for my enemies.
  2. When I disagree with someone, I brush them off, unfriend them, turn away, quit loving them, etc..
  3. I talk about those who have harmed me to others in a negative way.
  4. I think of ways to get even.
  5. I’m happy when an enemy fails
  6. I have an eye for an eye attitude
  7. I don’t easily forget offenses
  8. I want all things my way
  9. I am the one in control. 
  10. I rarely think about how my responses will affect others.

Low scores say you’re an easy forgiver, part of the Forever Forgiven Family. High scores might make you part of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s – still holding on to that grudge. Somewhere between 30 and 70 place you and me in the still working toward perfection category.

Did you know that unforgiveness actually has a physical effect on the body?  61% of all cancer patients have forgiveness issues. John Hopkins Hospital research shows there is an increased risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among other conditions.  So, what’s the cure? Forgiveness! It’s as simple as that. Make the choice to forgive.  It lowers the risk of a heart attack; improves sleep and cholesterol levels; reduces pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and stress.  So what are we waiting for?  

The Bible is full of verses on forgiveness. Can you think of one or two off the top of your head?

Let’s take a look at Matthew 5:44But I (Jesus) tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  As believers we tend to see persecution as something that happens to Believers in other places, missionaries in the dangerous and scary countries of the world…   Persecution is and happening in our own towns, cities, and back yards.  Our schools, colleges, and universities are hot spots for groups that demean and target students for their beliefs. Please don’t get me started on the separation of church and state and 1st amendment rights.  That could take all night.  But what does Jesus say to do?  Pray.  Love them and pray for them. 

Pop over to Romans 12 and we’ll start in verse 9. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. We are to be sincere in our love for others and do good to the offender.  These are some tough-love words.  I’m supposed to be sincere in my love for someone who has called me names, made me look bad, stolen from me. Get real.  They don’t deserve it.  It has little to do with deserving it and everything to do with our mindset.  I know you’ve heard the words – I have to love him/her/them but I don’t have to like them.  Yes, you do!! That is so far from the truth that I’ll bet God’s blood pressure goes up each time He hears it.  We are to love and that includes every nuance of the word.  How do we do that? Turn over to 1Corinthians 13: 4-8 

Back in Romans 12, check out verse 14 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. How do we bless those who have offended us? The verse says do not curse.  In other words, don’t speak poorly of or about the one who is offending.

Look ahead to verses 17-19. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the LORD.  So, first of all, don’t fight back.  If someone says you’re an idiot and you respond you’re a fool that’s repaying evil for evil.  You never know who’s listening, they might see both of you in the wrong.  It’s not your job to punish them. No eye for an eye.  God is in control. Let Him handle it. You know the adage – Let go and let God.

Turn to Proverbs 24:17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls: when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.  We’re not supposed to celebrate our enemy’s failures.  We’re not supposed to be any kind of happy when we see their name in the newspaper that they got a ticket for speeding.  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the issue we have with them, but still…  We’re not supposed to say they got what they deserved in any circumstance. We’re supposed to be loving, supportive and peaceful as far as it is up to us.  If we don’t the next verse (in Proverbs 24) is pretty clear about the outcome… vs. 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from them.  The verse doesn’t say where God’s wrath will go but I certainly don’t want it to land on me.  Just sayin’…

OK, then, back to the New Testament. Find Luke 6:31  Do to others as you would have them do to you! I could seriously hear my mother’s voice when I read that.  Whether it was my sisters, cousins, or friends tormenting me, bullying me, leaving me out she would say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It seemed to take a long time before I really understood that if I treated those I was with the same way I wanted to be treated the outcome would be more positive.  

I’d love to see some examples from your own lives in the comments.

Let’s go back to Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  In psychology, dwelling on the past, particularly negative events is called ruminating. It’s rarely a good thing and once again sets us up for the medical conditions I talked about earlier.  When you find yourself anxious, perhaps unable to sleep because of the need to forgive another person my recommendation is to give it to God and move on.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  This is a very human condition and my solution is to start mentally reciting Bible verses I have memorized. Philippians 4:8 is a good one, the 23rd Psalm, The Lord’s Prayer… 

What are some of your favorite, memorized verses.  Especially those you use over and over.

Then finally pray again. (Notice I sandwiched how to forgive with a prayer on the top and bottom, beginning and end.)  If you can’t find the words you want turn to God’s Word.  David prayed one of the greatest ever prayers for forgiveness in Psalm 51. Reread 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 if you don’t remember the reason for this prayer.

He so wants every one of us to know we’re forgiven. Do you?  We all sin and fall short of His glory but He wants us to come willingly to Him, confess our sin, and know His love and presence.  If you’ve never done that and are feeling His tug on your heart pray this simple prayer with me.  If you already know Him and want more of Him and recognize that He can and will forgive us of every shortcoming in our lives this prayer is for you, too.

Jesus, hear my prayer, I know I am a sinner and am asking for Your forgiveness.  I know You are the only Son of God and want You to come into my heart and lead me.  Thank You for loving me so much that You gave Your life to free me. 

I rarely write posts this long and want you to know it’s a transcription of a live study I did for Living Hope Free Methodist Church.  If you’d rather watch it than read it check it out here.  FORGIVENESS

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

The Powerful Purpose of Introverts – Book Review

Yes, I am an introvert.  I certainly never thought I was until I read this definitive study of the subject.  I also took all the tests, answered the questions, did some research of my own, and discovered I’ve been denying parts of my personality.  What a difference!!!

I want to take a few moments of your time to share what I have learned and with that encourage you to read The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holley Gerth.

I am a creative person. I like to move furniture around, use color to enhance my home.  I like to sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, and design my own projects.  I like to read, write, and think in quiet places where I can totally focus. I love to teach, sing, and play the piano for God’s glory.   I like to share my work with others.  Trust me, I am not shy about it.  Now you might think, like I did for so long, that makes me an extrovert.  Not so!  All these things make me who I am.  Holley Gerth says, “When we become more aware of ourselves, we become more aware of others too.”

I used to think that people who want solitude, time alone, were some kind of weird.  I love being with people, talking with people, interacting with people, but it sometimes drains me.  All these things are not the opposite of solitude.  Allowing myself time ‘alone’ increases my creativity, deepens my Christian growth, and helps me focus on what is really important.

Through this book, I discovered to be the best me I can be I must take time to make and grow positive personal connections.  For me, this means listening well, being patient and persistent (always working on this one), and sharing the limelight.

I could almost hear myself talking at one point in my reading.  A loud noise of any kind is so deeply offensive to my sensibilities that I will choose not to involve myself in activities that have that potential.  Concerts of any kind, including the symphony, require me to always carry earplugs.  When Holley commented that she does too I was truly seeing myself.  I absolutely love music and good speakers, but they can be overwhelming for this introvert.

Holley Gerth writes about being an introvert with great passion, with the sensitivity of being an introvert, but most of all with the desire to help everyone understand both themselves and the people around them.

Oh, how I have grown through reading this book.  Read it!  You will grow too.

Blessings on blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an ebook copy of this book from Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Threes

Have you noticed how many 3 word admonishments, commands, and connections there are in the Word?  Starting with the Father, Son, and Spirit before time began and ending with the Holy Threesome when time, as we know it, ends. Three wise men.  Noah had three sons.  Job had three daughters.  Daniel prayed three times a day.  Jesus answered satan’s three temptations by answering with three scriptures.  Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.  Three witnessed the transfiguration.  Three heavens. Three crosses.  Jesus rose on the third day… and more.

The number three is significant because it represents completeness.  Not just the single number but all its multiples.  For example there 27 books in the New Testament which is represented mathematically as 3x3x3. God’s completeness is shown in many ways.  Time is shown through yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  God’s people are called, chosen, and elect. Man is body, soul, and spirit.  We serve God in thought, word, and deed.

God’s word is full of three phrase commands.  Take a look at these…

Micah 6:8 NIV tells us to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

In 2 Timothy 1:7(The Message) we are to be bold, loving, and sensible with what (gifts) God has given us.  In the same chapter, we are to not be afraid because the Spirit gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

How about Deuteronomy 30:16 NIV?  For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  This one is a command with a promise…

Love. Obey. Keep.  =  Life.  Increase.  Blessings.

And just one more three to complete this post.  The only attribute of God that is mentioned in groups of three in the Word is Holy, Holy, Holy.

Blessings upon blessings to you and yours!

Marie

All quoted verses are connected to BibleGateway.com.  Check it out! It’s a great resource.

STAND ALL THE WAY UP – Book Review

My favorite reads are those that motivate, encourage, and make me more aware of what is happening in this crazy world. Not self help so much as books that say ‘I’ve been where you’ve been and this is how ‘we’ dealt with it. We? Never alone, always with God and the great people He placed in our lives for the purpose of coming alongside.

Sophie Hudson’s (Stand All The Way Up) writing style is straight forward, say it like it is, and downright funny.

Here are a few concepts that are covered in this book.

Quit faking it! You are who you are, what you are, and God loves you just that way.

Whenever it’s OK with God then it’s OK with me.

Being prepared in all situations (Yes, life WILL throw curveballs.) is a nod of respect to yourself and those around you.

I don’t have to keep everyone happy in every situation.  I can choose to react my way simply because I want to.

When God clearly tells you what He wants, do it!  Stand firm on your decision to obey!

God can, will, and does, make a way in every circumstance.

Personal is ALL about personal comfort. Once again, quit trying to be someone or something other than yourself.

Strong relationships and fellowship in the local church matter. Pursue them. If the groups of the church are so tight they don’t have room for you then create your own or find another church.

When my life is all about what I can do for you, IT MATTERS!

Pretending is lying. Be who you really are, not what you think you should be.

I truly hope this motivates you to read Stand All The Way Up by Sophie Hudson. It’s worth your time and will definitely cause you to think in some new ways.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them I may receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

 

 

 

Life-Style Evangelism

When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment of the Law He replied;

  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22

Perhaps there is a 3rd Commandment in the New Testament that we sometimes miss because it’s not seen in that light.  I suggest that the following needs to be added.

 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28

In the sermon this past Sunday our Asst. Pastor had done some research into how churches thrived and survived the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.  His take away from the research was the Believers of that time practiced Life-Style Evangelism.

Having trained in Life-Style Evangelism several years ago at Ridgecrest, in North Carolina, I learned that sharing Jesus with our friends and neighbors is as important as any other ministry in the local church.  Below is a list of some ways you can practice this very important part of our Christian walk.

Wear a piece of jewelry that invites discussion.

Take a glass of something cold to your neighbor, or the person doing lawn work, or any other outdoor job, in the hot days of summer.

Visit or call someone at home, in a hospital, or nursing home that doesn’t get visitors. (Of course, call ahead, because they may be isolated due to Covid-19.)

Call friends and family to say I’m thinking of you.

Invite the person who is sitting alone (in church, at a restaurant, etc.) to sit with you.

When someone’s name pops into your mind send them an ‘I’m thinking of you’ note.

Follow through when you’ve said you would do something. IF you said I’ll call, then call.

Don’t hesitate to pray anywhere and anytime you’re asked.  Yes, even when you aren’t asked.  If you see the need, pray!

Create a blog and don’t hesitate to tell others about it.

Be sincere in your compliments.  People can always tell when you’re ‘just sayin’ ‘.

Prayer-walk your neighborhood.  Pray for every home even if you don’t know the person living there.

When you get ready to get rid of your Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary cards put them in a box and keep them in your ‘prayer spot’. Take one out each day and pray for that person. Let them know you prayed with a call or a card/note.

Invite someone who may be all alone to family dinners like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter…

Take a picture frame that you aren’t using, or buy one for this purpose. Put a sheet of paper (any color) behind the glass. Use a dry-erase marker to write the names of those you want to pray for.  Hang it in a place you see every day.  (Mine is above my home office desk.)

I hope these are helpful in your endeavors to go and tell. If you have any additional ideas comment in the space below.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

(I use Bible Gateway for Bible-related resources.)