Life’s Greatest Liability

Life's Greatest Liability

Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The greatest liability in the life of a believer is unforgiveness. To restrict the mercy, compassion, love and grace given to us is the source of limitation and lack that often goes unnoticed creating frustration and unmet expectation. It binds and restricts the one who holds it tightly. Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” T.D Jakes tells it like this – “unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the change to escape beyond the pain.” And finally “forgiving someone may cost you your pride but not forgiving them will coast you your freedom.”

Mercy is not only characteristic of God the Father, but the overflow of His Existence. (Deuteronomy 7:9) His Mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1) It is freely given to us each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Lord is our portion. The One in whom our hope is secure. Mercy is defined as compassion and kind forbearance shown toward an offender. Sin is offensive to God. Pride resides in the human heart producing rebellion against God when given the opportunity. Unforgiveness is one of its most effective traits. The decision to harbor unforgiveness in our heart is to sow seeds of bitterness that will take root and choke out the relationship being restored in us producing new life, new love and new creations. How many times has Luke 6:36-38 been attributed to lesser things? Prosperity of our soul begins with the forgiveness of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It continues to grow and develop in us when we choose to extend the same grace, love and mercy to others.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus emphasizes the importance of a right relationship with God. He does not stop there but also right relationships with people. Building and maintaining right relationships is the development and advancement of God’s Kingdom and strengthens the Body of Christ. To know God is the highest pursuit of righteousness. To be in an ongoing and thriving relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of forbearance or forgiveness in us which is evidence of our relationship with the Triune God. Understanding the importance of forgiveness to vitality in Christ is essential in our spiritual growth and development which is soul prosperity. The Lord even put in the model of daily prayer. (Matthew 6:11-13) We must live in a constant state of mercy and forgiveness to maintain a constant connection to God and His Kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus did not give some mathematical formula but instead “seventy times seven” is used to imply limitless forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a liability and misuse of the binding power and authority given to us by Christ. It is forgetfulness on our part of God’s Grace towards us or to somehow imply ourselves more deserving than another. It restricts and binds. It is dangerous to our body, mind and spirit working like a cancer eating away at us. It is mishandling Kingdom power. It limits our prayer life. (Mark 11:25-26) It is sin retention in our life. (John 20:22-23) Unforgiveness is a liability to the believer creating limitation and lack while restricting the abundance that God has for those who live in a right relationship with Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is intimately aware of our sin as it is the very thing that nailed His Precious Son to the Cross. God’s expectation of His People is love and forgiveness as described in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Psalm 52:8-9 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

We have been given the love, grace and mercy of God. It is released in all fullness to the believer as seed to do with it what we choose. Freedom is established in the Son, the Word of God. The very first benefit given to us that makes way for every other blessing. (Psalm 103) To overstep forgiveness is to restrict abundance in our life. All blessings are contingent on the Grace of God that allows His Goodness to be poured out on the unworthy and imperfect chosen by adoption. When we decide to not forgive another person for their offense, it is to refuse God’s Blessings in our life and choose our own portion. Pride chooses its own way bypassing righteousness found in the Grace of God by way of humility. Is there lack in your life? Are you limited? Does your prayer life seem stagnant? Do you lack love, joy or peace? Search your heart with me today. Look for any seed of unforgiveness or bitterness. God’s Grace will cover it as you rip it out by the root. Freedom is poured out the moment we choose to forgive. It may not mean a mended relationship but it will restore righteousness when heartfelt and sincere. Do not let it be a liability but let grace and mercy by an asset as you thrive in the Presence of God today.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

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Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

 

 

It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

The Power of Relationship

The Power of Relationship

Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV) But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 

My sister stopped in last night for a quick visit. She lives in Missouri. We live in Florida. Seven years apart seems like forever as children but now as women – we finally connect. Early this year, we spent a great deal of time together when our mom had open heart surgery. In those days, years melted into moments and the reality of relationship decades in the works gently unfolded. The Lord was working in my heart on His Next Great Set Up for my life. How could my sister who lives miles away know the details? With busy lives, there is little time for conversation yet she gave insightful words only possible through a Living God who lives in us. It’s funny how the Lord starts at the beginning and works things to the end when we live unaware and incognizant lives so “independently” only to discover that He has been working it all the time.

Our family would be considered a blended family. A small version of the “Brady bunch” with a man and his two children meets a woman and her two children and from there the rest is history. Messy and difficult – yet by the Power of God seamlessly sewn together into something of value and worth. There is power in relationship. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God the Father. He did so by grace because apart from it – our flesh and sinful nature would not ever allow such a union. In an age of hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups with quick marriages and even quicker divorces resulting in broken lives and if we are blessed blended families, I wonder if people are truly experiencing the power of relationships.

Walking through the quiet house knowing that my sister is sleeping in our guest room, I am thankful. Thankful that in spite of us, God had an amazing plan. The story of Ruth and Naomi replayed in my mind. Naomi and her husband took their sons to Moab to escape the famine. Her husband died in Moab. His sons married two Moabite women, but both of her boys died within ten years. Naomi and the two women were now helpless in their culture. They had no one to care for them and Naomi felt there no other choice but each to return home to the care of their family. She blessed both women to return to their families. They were reluctant. Naomi finally convinced Orpah to leave and she kissed her mother-in-law and departed. But Ruth would not go. Ruth was committed to the relationship. She would go where Naomi went even if it meant dying there.

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The command of Jesus Christ for my life is this – Love each other as I have loved you. He wants me to develop long-lasting and committed relationships with all people to form the Body of Christ. Build the Kingdom Of God. I wonder what might happen if the church and all of its people really followed the commandment of Christ for us all. It is not in the religion or even proper doctrine. No, it is in the messy and complicated thing called love. Not just any love but love that follows through in a relationship. To lay down our life for our friends. This is the power of relationship. Love is the power that fuels relationship. Love and all that it is defined clearly in I Corinthians 13 is the only thing that is required of us. However, it is easier to give all else but keep our self. It is difficult to love anyone else if our love for Christ is incomplete. If His Grace is not sufficient for me, I will never be able to love another because of unmet expectation. It is not until I find completion in a linear connection to the Lord that is vertically kept that I will ever be able to give my life to a friend let alone all of them.

Romans 13:8 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

As children, my sister and I lived in constant competition for love that already belonged to us. My father was absent for many years of my life and when he resurfaced it was with another child. What I didn’t realize was that some of the difficulties between my sister and I were because of my unmet expectations. I couldn’t love her the way I should because of the hurt in a young girl’s heart. However, as Christ healed my heart over many, many years and mended my relationship with my dad by His Grace, I have found that this person who is my sister is a treasure. A blessing hidden in my life by God who the Lord has placed on a very similar path. It took years to bring us together and form the union of sisterhood that is evident now. I wonder how many of us are willing to admit that maybe the lack of longstanding and fulfilling relationships in our life is not because other people left us but rather our inability to let other people into our hearts and lives. Hearts hardened by betrayal. Emotions devastated by unmet expectation. Empty soul spots reserved for another that truly belong to Jesus. Once filled with the Love of God, we will love others as Christ loves us. However, until we experience the Grace of God to fill our hurts and heal our hearts – there is the danger of living and striving for a love that already belongs to us and cannot be earned only discovered.

Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. The only obligation in life that God identifies is our purpose to love. Love is a commitment. It is not a shallow emotion. To love is to lay down our life including our mind, will and emotions for another person. God does not limit the sphere of relational influence to just our family and acquaintances. No the truest test of love is to love even our enemies.

Matthew 5:4348 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What would happen if the Body of Christ truly became a New Testament church? A body of believers who truly loved each other according to God’s Word and not personal expectation. Religion is easy. It’s a list of do’s and don’ts that make us feel better about our ability to earn a little bit of grace. It is the opportunity to maintain our own pride and peace of mind by retaining a piece of self. It is toxic. Religion excludes. The Spirit of Jesus Christ tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. His desire was clear. He wanted a relationship with us. He desired a place in our hearts. A love so deep and overflowing that it would pour out on others. We must rediscover the power of relationship to fulfill our commitment to Jesus Christ. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Go where we go. Make a way for us. The list goes on and on. When I decide to love others or at least to try to as Christ loves me beginning with absolute and abundant grace, I am about to experience the most powerful breakthrough possible as Child of the Living God. Such bonds of love produce agreement that make miracles possible.

Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” To release the life-giving and full empowering Spirit of God in the form of revival will start with relationship. One relationship at a time. I believe that our greatest miracle may just be hidden in our most impossible and difficult relationships. We must rediscover the power of relationships to see the Glory of God fall all around us again. He promised He would be in the midst of just two people who agree.

Come on church! We can do so much better than that when we decide His Grace is enough for me to let go and love. Forgive or forge the way with love glorious love. It is all about love. Thank you Jesus for the important reminder that it is all about love. Look around. Who do you find it most difficult to love? Find that person. Pray for the restoration of the relationship or creation if there has never been one. Tell them, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”. In the beginning – it may just be you telling you under your breath. The person the enemy fights the hardest to keep you from loving is usually the one who is the key to your miracle. The secret of revival is the power of relationship. Lord fill us with your love today. Give us more of Your Grace to forgive and forgive some more. Let your new mercy fall on  us like rain that washes away hurt and insult to allow new hope to spring up in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts. Lord, bind us together in the Light of Your Love for Your Glory. Amen and amen.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Mercy Triumphs

mercy-triumphs-over-judgment

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

“You delight in showing mercy…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Mercy by Bethel Music has been set on replay the last few days. God delights in showing us mercy so much so that He gives us new mercy and a fresh start every day without fail. The next verse yields the secret to God’s Mercy. “My past embraced…My sin forgiven.” The certainty of God’s Grace is full acceptance of His Mercy. To wake each morning believing that His Grace is enough for you releases everyone and everything from your expectation. It means that all the wrongs, hurts, offenses and failures of the day before fall off in waves of grace as His New Mercy covers us. “I’m blameless in Your Sight…My history rewritten.” Do you believe that God’s Grace is enough for you today? I am challenged daily with pride that tells me I deserve better than how I am treated and that I have earned more than I have. Faith must overcome such rebellious thoughts to be reminded with each new day and His Gift of Mercy that Jesus is all that I need to share His Mercy with others.

Do you delight in showing mercy? What is your response to hurt, rejection, or offense? Is it immediate forgiveness? Yeah, me either. If you feel left out, slighted or ignored? Do you press in or move away? If you become angry, do you lash out? Do you fight for what is yours? Does love mean more than being right? See God is love and He is filled with unfailing love and compassion for people. Are you? Am I? God’s Faithfulness is enough to complete our life and bring us into full completion and absolute satisfaction. This requires putting all of our expectation in Christ alone. Releasing others from fulfilling our wants, needs and desires. Placing our complete and absolute total trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

What is mercy? Mercy is compassionate and kind forbearance shown toward an offender or enemy. It is to maintain a disposition of loving forgiveness. It is also the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone. God’s Mercy is kindness, compassion and favor. The very qualities that people desire but are often reluctant to give. Feelings and emotions are powerful driving forces in people that will take years of learning to lean on, trust in and depend on the Lord to overcome. The human heart is held together by soul ties. Connections that must be cut and grafted into Jesus Christ (the Vine) in order to overcome to be free to love and be loved. God’s Love is unconditional. To live in His Love our love must reflect His Love. This is full acceptance of Grace when it is enough so we can give it to others..

Lamentations 3:17-21 (NLT) Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…

Many who read this will immediately have an image in their head of the event or trauma in life that left a mark so deep that a scar has formed on your heart. For some, there is only a festering wound. Constantly poked and prodded by the enemy who uses people as his pawns, whispering lies like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to cause division, strife, and bitterness. Has your peace been stripped away? Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Have you been in living in a “barren, dry” land? Nothing is going right, nobody can help, and misery accompanies you day and night? He is our Provider. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water for thirsty souls. Do you feel like everything you hoped for is lost and every dream dead in a valley of dry bones? Hope is the anchor for our soul. It keeps us trusting and believing when everything falls apart in our life. Without hope, there is nothing to have faith in anymore. Have you decided that you will “never” forget this awful time? Does it feel that your life will be forever marked by sadness, grief and sorrow? “Yet I dare to hope when I remember this…” Mercy triumphs over judgement. Those things that you have ordained as dead, gone and impossible – hope says that His Mercy is new each morning. His Grace is sufficient for us. We must learn to live in grace that allows us to live, breathe and hope in His Mercy for us.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Jesus Christ came to this world. He died to pay the price for our sins giving us our freedom to enter right-standing with God the Father again. We can do nothing to regain righteousness except accept His Gift of Amazing Grace. Jesus came to give us mercy not judgment. This is so important to know and understand to grow in our relationship with the Lord. You cannot have mercy and judgment at the same time. They are opposites. If I accept God’s Grace, I am giving up my right to judge other people. This includes the “right” to be offended, mad, bitter, jealous, retaliate or reject others due to their actions or attitude. Forgiveness is not option to those who desire to be redeemed by God.

Sowing and reaping includes our actions and attitudes toward others. If we sow love in our life, it will be our harvest. If we sow judgment which means demanding what is deserved, it will be the dismal future of our next season. What you give – you will receive because what you plant you also harvest? With this in mind…

John 8:15 (NLT) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.

Jesus judges no one. He said it right here. God judges people. Those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus accepting His Grace will have mercy. Jesus is our example. I cannot judge others and be one with Christ. So now when given the opportunity to be hurt, mad, resentful and bitter…these words rise up in me…”mercy triumphs over judgment.” “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

James 2:12-14 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The “Law” that sets us free is God’s Grace. To fully accept God’s Grace is to let go of our right to judge other people. I could not and still cannot keep all of the rules and regulations of God’s Law, therefore; His Grace must be sufficient for me. The minute that I choose to judge another person as unworthy of mercy is the very moment that I exempt myself from it as well. I need God’s Grace to make it into forever with the Lord. I cannot imagine this being all there is to life. My faith is investing in faith. Faith though small it is mighty. It allows me to plant things in others that they are not willing to give me because they are not the source of my life or satisfaction. When I put my full expectation in Jesus – it really doesn’t matter what others think of me or how they treat me because if I will just give them the mercy that I have God’s Promises are mine. I will be complete lacking no good thing. I will have the Mind of Christ and peace that goes with it. I will remain free indeed because I will be one with Jesus. No man or woman can do for you what Jesus did for you and continue to does for you each day. His Love is perfect. His Grace is flawless. His Favor is abundant. Why settle for less by being unforgiving, unrelenting and unmerciful when you already have more than enough and full sufficiency in His Grace! Jesus will satisfy the soul that cuts the ties to human emotions and rights to be right or revered.

Faith is not only the acceptance of God’s Grace but administration of mercy, love, compassion and favor to others as you have received from the Lord. Judgment is to withhold any of these because you feel the other unworthy. Submission to Jesus means surrendering our mind, will and emotions to a God who is greater than our feelings. He is giving us new mercy today! Mercy triumphs, wins, overcomes and removes judgement from our life. What will you do to preserve God’s Grace and give mercy in your life today? What are you willing to give up? Forget? Forgive? His Mercy will meet you the moment you let go!

Mercy (Bethel Music)

I will wake and spent my days…Loving the One who has raised me up…From death to life, from wrong to right…You’re making all things beautiful. You delight in showing mercy…mercy triumphs over judgment.

2 John 3 (NLT) Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

To Love a Hedgehog

To Love a Hedgehog

John 15:12-13 (NIV)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For as long as I can remember our son has been fascinated with animals of all kinds. His childhood hero was Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. He would do documentaries on our family as though we were some wild pack in the voice of Jacque Cousteau. When he became an adult, he could finally begin to collect his menagerie. One of these creatures was a hedgehog. I had no experience with the sweet timid little animals when he asked if we could keep him for the weekend. After much begging by our youngest strategically facilitated by her brother, I relented and he came to our house for the weekend. For those unfamiliar with hedgehogs, they are like tiny porcupines covered in sharp quills that are quite painful. When in fear, he simply rolled up in a tiny poky ball of needles. One can imagine this was not the snuggly pet that my daughter thought he would be. We learned how to handle him in a way that he did not resort to his only defense. It took a great deal of patience and overlooking all the jabs to get used to his demeanor and how to hand him safely. Alas, we were sad (okay maybe not that sad) to see him go home.

I woke up this morning with people on my heart who have struggling relationships. Good people, wonderful individuals, and otherwise lovable creatures who somehow have become offended by another now living in discord. An offense can be anything that causes us to be displeased or offended. There is a wide range on the spectrum. It all produces the same result. Division, discord, bitterness and separation. These are hardly the qualities and traits that Jesus demonstrated or commanded us to have but human nature calls the shots sometimes. Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. How can we lay down our very life for another if we are unwilling to put our feelings aside to love them anyway?

Isaiah 44:21-23 (NIV)

“Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

There are two sides to every offense. The one who is offended. The perpetrator of the offense. It really doesn’t matter which side we are on and quite frankly, knowingly or unknowingly, we all fall short in relationships. I love my husband and children with all of my heart. My greatest desire is to be a good wife and mother. I fall short. Constantly, because I am plagued with being human. The success and failure of my relationships depends solely on Christ. He meets my expectation when others fall short. He forgives me and removes my shame when others are unwilling to do the same. The Lord has swept my offenses away like a cloud removing my sin like the morning midst when the sun comes out. He has redeemed me. Grace is mine. It is given in abundance to not only cover my sins and transgressions against God but to be afforded others with great generosity.

I read a wonderful article on Charisma.org yesterday and shared it on Facebook. It was all about offense and the impact it has on today’s church. Satan is a cunning one. He plays on the emotions of others to suck the life out the modern day church. Until we individually and corporately begin to identify this thing called offense and deal with it directly, it will suffocate the Spirit in us and kill the move of God that we so greatly desire. Revival begins when we lay down our life. We have every reason to rejoice. Acceptance into the Kingdom of God as His Sons and Daughters is really the only affirmation that a person should ever need and enough to draw from for the rest of our natural life.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NIV)

Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Back to our little hedgehog friend with the sharp exterior, the Lord created him as such so that he would have a defense mechanism and means of survival. There are many poky people out there with sharp exteriors and hard hearts where bitter roots have taken hold and as means of self-preservation walls have been built around their heart. On the other side of the coin are those who feel valid in their assault on others, as humility is a sign of weakness. There are many reasons why people develop such an exterior but inside of them is a soft beating heart which has been battered and bruised. Putting our hope and expectation in other people yields nothing but disappointment. Only hope never leads to disappointment and His Name is Jesus.

It doesn’t really matter today if you are the offended or the offender, God loves us just the same. Separation is just as lonely as isolation so it really doesn’t matter what drives us apart. To Jesus the only thing that really matters is getting us back together. He died for every offense and hurt caused by human inability and weakness. Repentance is the solution to offensiveness. It is the only answer to being offended. This is not about anyone else but you and I individually in a relationship with Christ. To allow anyone to hold power over our mind, will and emotions more so than Christ is to completely reject His Love, Grace and Power which is complete. I can choose to not be offended by putting all my expectation in Christ not others because such a stance allows constant forgiveness because I need nothing more. I will not offend others if I walk in love following the example of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. A prickly personality and tough exterior will never welcome people into this amazing love that we have discovered. The Lord is coming closer. He wants to give us a heart and new spirit that will allow us to move deeper in His Presence. To do so requires putting all our faith, hope, trust and expectation in Jesus again AND releasing every offense.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NIV)

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?” It is definitely get up and walk which implies personal power over reliance on God’s Power. We get to participate in walking but the forgiveness of sins solely and completely is the Work of Jesus Christ. I can do nothing but accept it. To live freely and love completely in this life relies on our ability to accept the Love of Jesus as enough to love others without expectation. You cannot get offended if you have no requirement. It would have been absolutely ridiculous for me to get mad at that hedgehog every time he poked me. He was just trying to protect himself. He didn’t know better. How did he know my true intentions? So over the course of his visit, I learned how to handle him gently and lovingly so he knew that we meant no harm. If only we could learn to handle people the same way and with the same respect and compassion as the Lord loves and forgives us.

Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV)

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

When we make the choice to love others unconditionally and decide not to take offense at the actions and attitudes of others, our need for love, affirmation, acceptance and approval will be satisfied in Christ alone. Proverbs 19:11 says that it is to our glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 17:9 tells us that whoever fosters love covers offenses. Lord, help us to get a handle on our selfish need to be right, be first, and be embraced by others to so that we can seek you wholeheartedly and love you completely.

I Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Friends, it is time to suck it up buttercup as the saying goes and bury the hatchets. Not in each other, but throwing them far from us as far as the east is from the west. Bitterness is sin. It takes the place of faith because it is a seed of doubt that we accept when Jesus is not enough to complete our life. To be offended demonstrates a need for more love and acceptance than we have found at the Cross. Ephesians 4:31 encourages us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every other kind of malice. It does on to encourage God’s People to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just like Jesus forgave us. Nowhere does it say to stay mad and go our separate ways which means in doing so we are walking in disobedience. I don’t want to disobey the Lord but walk daily in His Ways. Hebrews 12:15 issues a staunch warning to the Body of Christ that we might do well to heed today. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” We must each examine our own heart today and tear out those bitter roots before they overtake us. We must ask the Lord to forgive us for offending others and if possible ask their forgiveness, too. Humility is not easy or fashionable but rewarded by God every time. To yield our life completely to Christ means putting all of our expectation firmly by faith in Him. This leaves no room for offense only an open door for love!

Proverbs 10:9-12 (NIV)

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Whoever winks maliciously causes grief and a chattering fool comes to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

 

Forgive Me – A Devotion

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Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

 

Unforgiveness is a noose around the neck of every person who has ever experienced it. It is suffocating and pulls us back as one attempts to move forward and get on with our life. Whether those who have hurt or offended us have done so knowingly or completely oblivious to the insult or injury, it is the person who has taken offense that is hindered in bondage. We must learn to forgive. Why? Because I want Jesus to forgive me. The world has become a very insincere place. Pride stands watch over the human heart forbidding such an act of weakness as a simple apology. Consumed with their own needs, wants and desires, there is little time to assess the needs of others so we make no attempt to reach out because we are consumed with dissatisfaction and discontentment. We do not let anyone into our life for fear that they will let us down. God chose us to be His Holy People. Traits inherent to that calling include clothing ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. What gives God the right to expect such things from us? It is exactly what He has done for us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. The only difference is that I do not have to sacrifice my life be forgiven but I expect other people to. The Lord forgave me free and undeserved, so it should be my honor to do the same for others yet I do not. Above all…such a lofty term would indicate major importance. Clothe yourselves in love that binds us ALL together in perfect harmony. Forgiveness does not begin with me…or you for that matter. Since God…it began with Him.

 

Hebrews 10:17-23 (NLT)

Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.By his death,Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

Keeping unforgiveness is like harboring a fugitive from justice. Those things that we claim to be grounds for such an action are the very things that keep us from entering deeper into the Presence of God. Like a ball and chain around the ankle, we are limited in our movement. The Lord tells us that He will “never again remember my sins or lawless deeds.” When sins are forgiven, there is no need for sacrifices. This is important. This is something that will change our life when we fully understand the potential of forgiveness and the freedom in Christ available when we choose to forgive. We have a new and life-giving way into the Presence of God that no longer requires a sacrifice which means that our sins are in fully remission. They are gone. We no longer owe a penalty because it was completely satisfied by Jesus Christ. Are you satisfied with Jesus Christ is the real question? Is He enough for me? We must hold tightly to “hope” which is the product of faith well-planted in the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and left to grow, develop and mature into prosperity. Forgiveness takes back our seeds of faith and gives them to the things of this world. We hope in people rather than God’s Kingdom when we become indebted to other people rather than fully trusting the Lord.

 

Hebrews 12:23-24 (NLT)

You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

 

The terms of our New Covenant with God requires forgiveness. The Old Covenant was about repayment and restitution. Jesus Christ created the New Covenant by satisfying the Old Covenant once and for all. You have now become a Child of God and resident of His Kingdom. This makes God judge over our life and therefore when someone comes against you – they must answer to God the Father not you for their actions. Unforgiveness is nothing more than you and I taking the Law into our own hands again. It means that we have become judge and jury trying to take God’s Position in our life. It is rebellion against the Kingdom of God and restricts our freedom. Jesus Christ mediates the New Covenant between God and His People. The language of the New Covenant is underlined by forgiveness, kindness, forbearance, mercy, compassion and love. Anything else is a cry for vengeance that we have no right to make and separates us from God the Father because it rejects the forgiveness of His Son – Jesus Christ.

 

Luke 6:41-47 (NLT)

Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver[b] to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said.Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

 

Forgiveness is an act of worship to God the Father and Jesus His Son. When the woman with the alabaster box came and anointed Jesus Christ, the Pharisees and religious followers were appalled. It was of great monetary value and worth that did not go unnoticed by these men. It was represented her sinful lifestyle by which she secured such gain. But in her one act of sacrifice that seemed so wrong, she was accepted by Jesus Christ because in that moment she gave her all. She came close to Jesus Christ forsaking her pride to be where He was and worship Him. Several months ago, my husband and I were called to pray for people after the morning worship service. A young woman who we know approached us. She had many difficulties in her life as she struggles like we all do to work out her salvation. When it was her turn, she took our hands and said, “I don’t want you to pray for me even though God knows I need it. But I want to pray for you!” My heart was so blessed in that moment. Fighting back the tears, we bowed our heads and she prayed the best she knew how for us and our son. I believe her simple act of faith moved God’s Heart in that moment just as the woman with the alabaster box got the attention of Jesus Christ. What makes us think that we are any better or more deserving the next person for forgiveness and love? I am not sure but the more I know Jesus the less deserving I find myself to be of His Great Love and Sacrifice that resulted in my salvation and forgiveness of every single sin. I have been forgiven much and I should love Him more. Forgive me Lord for all those times I choose not to worship you with love and chose to expect repayment from those as undeserving of Your Love and Grace as I am. Unforgiveness takes the focus off of Christ – forgiveness frees us to worship Him again.

 

Matthew 6:9-15 (NLT)

Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need,and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation but rescue us from the evil one.If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 

Forgiveness is an act of faith. When we pray, we do so by faith that the Lord will hear our prayer and answer them. Forgiveness works the same way. As a Child of the Living God, it is our responsibility to represent the Father, Son and Spirit well with our life. It is a commitment not always easily kept. I know at times I think it would be much easier to be saved if I was the only person on the earth. I am disillusioned in my thinking because I would still be at war with myself. To establish Christ’s Kingdom on the earth means to get wrapped up in His Love and work to include everyone in His Love. His Will is that none should perish but receive everlasting life. This is what we are asking for when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We are asking Him to meet our needs and be our provider but much more than that we are asking Jesus to be our satisfaction. “Give us today the food we need and forgiveness we need to live.” What follows speaks volumes and comprises half of this prayer – forgiveness. We must forgive others as we expect God to forgive us. We must refuse unforgiveness and give it no place in our life. Forgiveness is as much an act of faith as trusting Jesus Christ to meet every other need that we have. It removes responsibility from others to put our full reliance and trust in Jesus to meet our needs and satisfy our souls. We will strive to live by faith in Christ if we are confident that He can and will deliver. Forgiveness is not innate. It is a learned behavior only possible through discipline and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is not human nature. (Isaiah 38:16-18) “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that Your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:24-25) Faith and forgiveness are partners one must be present of the other to work.

 

Luke 6:37-38 (NLT)

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

 

Unforgiveness is a form of judgment. The Word of God warns that if we judge others that we are inviting God’s Judgment of us once more. We are to imitate God. God is love. To judge someone is to condemn them. Indifference is the same as unforgiveness. This is a tough one. Indifference builds a wall around us to protect us from the offensive of another. If someone has hurt us, we may become indifferent. Such behavior excludes them from the Love of God that we are to minister to one another that binds us together. We are placing a barrier where the Lord has instructed us to remove them and let love prosper. Even our enemies deserve the Love of God that we have to share with the world whether we want to give it to them or not. Give forgiveness and you will receive it. Give grace and you will have a sufficient supply. Give mercy and He will bring new mercies each morning to replenish you. Give whatever it is that you need and it will be returned to you – pressed down, shaken together and running over. Love prospers when a fault is forgiven. If I want the Love of God that leads to a prospering soul to take over the outcomes in my life, I must change my outlook on other people. I must love them like Jesus. It means that I must learn to forgive.

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

 

The evidence of unforgiveness usually is best discovered in our words. Do we accept and affirm others or constantly tear them down with bitterness and slander. Be careful before you answer because I am finding more and more that I have unforgiveness hidden in my heart more than I care to admit. It is not always towards another person although we quickly can find one to become our target for example. We have gone through five months of battling for our son to receive necessary care to end this war with cancer that he has been fighting. The power of the almighty dollar and its exaltation over human life is sickening. Along the way, I have had many individuals who I could have been mad at. In fact, my flesh has fought hard to do so to release the pent up frustration and tension that builds inside of me sometimes. I fight daily things like bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander. These are all forms of evil behavior even if I never utter a word only think them. This is not an act of faith, but rebellion. It takes a great deal of time surrendering my heart to God and allowing His Word to penetrate my heart to stop these things from flowing from our life. But in the fight, I have learned to live by faith just a little more. I cannot count on this world to satisfy my soul and unforgiveness represents a debt that I expect the world to pay rather allowing Jesus Christ to be my satisfaction. He is my Provider. This includes meeting all my needs physically, emotionally and spiritually. If I place that expectation on anyone or anything else, then I have removed my faith from Jesus Christ. Lord forgive me and teach me to forgive!

 

I Peter 4:8 (NLT)

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.