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

Why I’ve Given Up On Forgiving Myself

 

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Whenever I read or hear someone saying, but you have to forgive yourself, I ask, why. There is absolutely nowhere in the Bible that says forgive yourself.

We are told to forgive others but never ourselves. (Matthew 6:12b) Why? Because we are not God. We cannot judge ourselves. Only God knows the reasons or motives behind our actions.

God chooses not to remember our sins. He doesn’t forget them He just doesn’t want to remember them. Perhaps that’s what God wants us to do. Move on, get over it, quit rolling it around in our minds…just forget it. If we are dredging up the past in our thoughts, we are recommitting the sin. Yes, that is Biblical. Take a look at what God says about lusting in Matthew 5:28. Basically, even if you’re thinking it, you’re doing it. Look at Proverbs 4:23. Your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Another way to look at this concept is through the eyes of one who is forgiven. Do you believe that you are forgiven? Do you understand that when Jesus went to the cross He took every one of our sins on Himself? Aren’t you basically saying His death doesn’t matter?

The evil one loves this thought pattern. When we minimize what Jesus did by saying I must forgive myself, satan has a door to enter our thoughts. The second we try to make forgiving about our own ability we have made ourselves God, or at least tried to.

Paul says in Romans 8:1, there is no more condemning for those who believe in Jesus. If you believe that is true, then there is no reason to be concerned with forgiving yourself. Jesus already did the hard work. We are cleansed, washed clean and totally forgiven because of His never-ending grace. We’ve got to get over this need to do it ourselves. He did it! Let that be it!

I must add, however, that we cannot assume that we can go on sinning. It should be our greatest desire never to sin again. Even though we have been ‘made new’ we are probably going to fall into the sin pit again. The Bible is quite clear on the process at that point… Ask for forgiveness from the One and Only… Accept His loving response (Go and sin no more-John 4:1-42)…Do not return to that sin in thought, word or deed… Move on, walk away, give it up…

Heavenly Father, it is my greatest desire not to sin against You in thought, word, or deed. Yet I do. Forgive my bent to thoughts, words, and actions that do not reflect You to the world around me. Help me to listen for the ‘voice’ of the Spirt in everything I think, do, and say. Teach me Your word so that I will know what You want. Make it so in Jesus name.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

I have been greatly honored to write this article for Blogs for Christian Women.  Click on the highlighted words and see what others are writing about it.

 

God’s To-Do List

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What if God kept a list?  A ‘to-do’ list of sorts?  I’m sure if He did he would have every name of every person that has ever been.  Let’s clear this up.  God does NOT keep a list.  Both the Old and New Testament attest to that.

“But I, yes I, am the one
    who takes care of your sins—that’s what I do.
    I don’t keep a list of your sins.”   Isaiah 43:25

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.     1 Corinthians 13:5-7 

But what if He did keep a list?  Might it look like this?

Adam     Loved & Forgiven

Eve     Loved & Forgiven

Jael     Loved & Forgiven (Judges 4:21)

David     Loved & Forgiven

Daniel     Loved & Forgiven

The Disciples of Jesus     Loved & Forgiven

The Woman at the Well     Loved & Forgiven

Everyone     Loved

All Believers     Loved & Forgiven

Did you catch that?  Everyone is loved by God.  His heart is broken by those who refuse to believe.  Those who will not recognize they are sinners…  Those who simply say there is no God…   Those who say I am more important, intelligent, talented…than the Great I AM…

Even though God does not keep lists, He loves and wants to forgive every person.  He will!  All we need to do is ask.

Abba, Father, give me a heart to reach out to those who do not know You.  Grant me the ability to know when I should share Your love and what I should share of Your Message.  Let me love like You and forgive with total forgetfulness.  Make it so in the Precious Name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

Happy Birthday, America!

220px-Spirit_of_'76“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

26 of the original signers of the Constitution were ordained ministers and it is likely the rest were Believers in Christ.  They all took an oath to the effect that if they did not uphold the document they were signing into law they would be hanged.  Words in this document attest to the Creator who gave man life and “certain unalienable rights”.   They would have rather died than be at the mercy of a government that did not have their best interests at heart!

For many, prayer in any place but the privacy of home or church, is not allowed.  That was not the intent of the founding fathers.  Part of the reason for the Revolutionary War, in addition to the taxation issue, was that England wanted the colonists to recognize the Church of England as the only Church of America.  Prayer, worship, and the Bible were a huge part of the Revolutionary American’s life.  The Founding Fathers would have rather been hanged than deny their oath…   Our current government would like us to believe that prayer is not acceptable in public…pretty much not at all, anywhere.  Yet belief in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the desire to respect and glorify Him in this new country is very evident in the first prayer uttered at the first meeting of Congress.

September 7th, 1774
Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, High and mighty King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments:

Look down in mercy we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of oppression, and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring henceforth to be dependent only on Thee, they have appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause; and if they persist in their sanguinary purpose, O, Let the voice of Thy own enerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle! 

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; the order, harmony and peace may be effectively restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish among Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seeth expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of JESUS CHRIST, THY SON, OUR SAVIOR.

AMEN

-Rev. Jacob Duché

Dear, dear friends, pray for this country, it’s people and it’s leaders.  God clearly said, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

This should be our humble and fervent prayer...IF MY PEOPLE…

Heavenly Father, 237 years later, we are still oppressed by our government, yet You have said if we will pray, You will heal our land.  Well right now I’m asking that You hear that prayer from me.  Forgive us, give us strength and courage to stand as Daniel did against a modern Babylon.  Help us all seek your face and forgiveness.  Give us strength and courage to stand for YOU!  I lift this prayer in Jesus’ most Holy and Precious Name.  Make it so!!!

Always Forgiven!

ResurrectionWE CANNOT OUT-SIN HIS FORGIVENESS!!!!

For Heaven’s sake don’t even think that I would ever suggest even trying.  One of the ways we get ever closer to Jesus likeness is our whole-hearted desire not to sin.  But we are human and we are sinful and that’s something we simply can’t ignore!

In Psalm 103:2-3 David tells us that we are not to forget His benefits and one of these is the forgiveness of sin.  For me, David’s words speak mountains of truth about forgiveness.  His story helps us understand that even the one (David) who had a Heart like His could and would sin!  David depended on God’s forgiveness, asked for it and it was given. Fully!

God is the God of the second, third, forth….chance.  Take a look at Jonah 1:1-3.  God told him to go to Ninevah and preach against its wickedness.  Jonah tried to run away and had the adventure and epiphiny of his life.  (Yes, my God is the Only One who could keep a man alive in the ‘belly of a whale’!)  Jonah 3:1 says the LORD spoke to him a second time and said go to Ninevah and proclaim the wickedness of the Ninevites.  Jonah obeyed!  God will forgive our disobedience but does expect to eventually obey.

Jesus tells us clearly in Matthew 6:14-15 that we must forgive others when they sin against us.  If we don’t the consequence is to big to imagine…the Father will not forgive us.  We are to be the picture of God to those around us.  If there is no way to out-sin God’s forgiveness then there is no sin of another that we can’t forgive.

Mighty, Awesome, Forgiving LORD!  Forgive my sins, the ones I know and the ones I don’t.  Give me Your super-natural ability to forgive those who have and will sin against me in some way.  Nurture in me a heart of forgiveness!  Make it so!!!