Tag: forgive

Don’t Be A Loser – Forgive

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This is for anyone who’s even been sat upon, spat upon, ratted on (a little touch of Paul Simon).

And, I must not forget those who identify with those “somebody done somebody wrong” songs (B.J. Thomas).

Yep, it’s a word for every person who’s ever been offended.

The word?

You aren’t the first, you probably won’t be the last, so are you going to allow the offender the power to control your life?

I wouldn’t if I were you.

“But you don’t know how I’ve been treated!”

No, I’m sure I don’t have a clue. But I know someone who does. He’s the same person who had this conversation with Peter. Jesus.

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)

In Luke chapter 17, Jesus was quoted as telling Peter the seventy times seven amount was for a single day. No wonder the disciples responded with, “Lord, increase our faith”!

So, what should a person do when they’ve been wronged?

Forgive.

I didn’t say forget. I didn’t say trust or endorse their behavior.

Forgive.

Release the offender from the imaginary prison you’re wanting to hold them in. Release them even if they don’t ask, or they never repent. Release them from your desire for revenge or retaliation. People may need to make restitution, but that’s between them and God, or them and the law.

Forgive. Don’t get locked up in your own prison.

There was a guy, a real loser, who owed a king a huge sum of money; ten thousand talents (Matthew 18). Back then, each talent was worth approximately twenty years of wages. Twenty times ten thousand equals more than my calculator cares to compute.

Well, the loser begged the king to have mercy, wait a little longer before casting him into prison, and he promised (again) to pay it all back.

Right. Great words, noble gesture, but an impossible feat.

But the king had compassion on the loser and forgave him the whole debt. The loser became a winner, thanks to the compassion of the king.

Too bad the guy didn’t appreciate what the king did for him. For immediately following his miracle debt reduction, he went to a guy who owed him a measly three months worth of wages. He grabbed the man by the collar, shoved him against the wall, and demanded repayment.

“Please have mercy, sir, and I’ll repay you”, the debtor cried.

“No way!” And with that, the loser demonstrated just how he had racked up such a huge debt in the first place.

He was stupid!

Well, the merciful king heard what the loser did, and called for an immediate face to face “come to Jesus” meeting. And by the time the king was finished talking, two men were behind bars; the loser AND the guy the loser tossed into prison.

Only the guy who WASN’T forgiven would eventually be released. The loser wasn’t EVER getting out.

So you’ve been offended, misrepresented, misunderstood, and even lied to. You hurt, your wounds are fresh, and the one who treated you in such a way is still at large; justice seems so far removed.

Before you grab your calculator and punch in all the numbers, and before you call for someone’s head on a platter, think about how much debt you have outstanding.

Maybe you’ve offended someone; maybe not. But you’re still a loser. So am I.

The debt we racked up with God is far greater than we could EVER repay. God has every right to throw us in an eternal prison and throw away the key.

But he didn’t. Instead, his son went to prison on our behalf. So, rather than remain a loser, we became a winner at Christ’s expense.

Because God forgave.

And we should, must, do the same.

“And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:33-35 ESV)

Mary Magdalene’s Morning

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I got up early, after a fitful sleep. Over and over, throughout the night, my mind replayed the horrible sights and sounds I witnessed a few days earlier.

I begin my walk of mourning, to the place where my heart was buried.

Jerusalem had been very busy for several days, with the Passover feast and all. People had come from miles around to offer sacrifices, meet with family and friends, and to watch the show.

It’s funny how people are, don’t you think? They almost faint when they see a single drop of blood, yet when something so extreme as a crucifixion takes place, they can’t seem to pull their eyes away from the gruesome sight. And when there are three crosses raised toward heaven, it really draws a crowd.

I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to go to the hill at all. I even tried to force my way through the crowd, trying to make it home before lunch; but I could only go where the mob took me. There was no way out. And all I could see were the crosses; each one displaying their prize.

“God Has Favorites” A Story – chapter one

A Story

I believe my parents had favorites!

I have two brothers and two sisters. Some of them could do no wrong. They got away with everything!

If you’ve had brothers or sisters, you probably know what I’m referring to. I’m not bitter nor am I casting stones. I’m not even saying I’m right in my belief. I’m only stating a fact, as perceived by me. Why do I believe they were favorites? Because they seemed to get away with more wrong doing than I.

Whether God has favorites or not, this fact remains; we perceive God has favorites because He seems to talk with others more, show more interest in what they’re doing, give them bigger allowances (allowing them to get by with more stuff), or He has them in a bigger, better, more lucrative ministry or job than us.

It isn’t fair, is it?

However, one doesn’t have to read very much scripture to understand even God’s “favorites” weren’t perfect, and were held accountable to doing things God’s way. Let’s look at a few of God’s “favorites” and see if there are some things we may identify with.

The first one, of course, is Adam.

Gen 1:26-28
26 Then God said,”Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,”Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen 2:7
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Adam was created by the Triune God, after Their likeness (spirit, soul, and body – 1 Thes. 5:23). God’s best creation was given authority over all the earth as God’s representative. God blessed Adam and his wife with everything that pertained to life and godliness. All they had to do was walk in the instruction of the Lord God.
Imagine how proud Father God must have felt! Walking around the garden with Adam, hearing the angels say to Him, “my, Adam looks just like You!” “A chip off the ol’ block”. “I do believe Adam has his Father’s eyes.” You know, things you like to hear as a parent.

But Adam failed to obey completely. Genesis 3 states that Eve was tempted by the serpent and, giving in to the suggestions and insinuations the serpent made, took the fruit from the forbidden tree, took a bite, then gave the fruit to her husband who was standing right beside her. This may not mean much to you, but I believe that while Eve was tempted, Adam sinned willingly. He knew what God had said to him and disobeyed anyway. Ever done anything like that?

Anyway, their wrong doing started mankind on a course of destruction which has affected every human being since. Paul wrote that “death reigned from Adam…”(Rom 5:14), and so it is still today.

The next favorite of God’s we’ll look at is Moses. The great prophet of God, Moses. The leader of the children of Israel. The mighty deliverer, worker of miracles, signs, and wonders. The one whom the Lord spoke with face to face (Ex. 33:11). The one commissioned by the Lord Jehovah to bring the children out of bondage into a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses, who stood boldly before Pharaoh and said with Heaven’s authority, “Let My people go!”

It was this Moses who killed an Egyptian, hiding him in the sand. Wrong number one. And in order to keep from standing trial, Moses took off to the back side of the desert. Wrong number two. Later on, he did wrong number three and had to finish his ministry a little early.

Our third example of a favorite of God is Jonah, the prophet. The Lord had used Jonah as a prophet before his great Nineveh crusade (2 Kings 14:25). Jonah had grown to recognize the voice of God and the heart of God. As a matter of fact, because Jonah knew the heart and nature of God, he decided to not have any part of the Nineveh revival.

So Jonah did wrong. He ran.

The last favorite we’ll look at, for now, is Peter. One of the first disciples handpicked by the Lord Jesus. Peter was the one who gave his boat to Jesus’ ministry. He’s the one who stepped out of that boat and walked on the water to Jesus. Peter is known to many as the loud mouthed disciple; the one who always said more than he should. But Jesus didn’t see him that way. He saw Peter as someone who was beginning to understand who He was and how Jesus fit into his present world view. Peter is the one who said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus didn’t rebuke him for shooting off his mouth. No, He blessed him.

But Peter did wrong. He denied the Lord.

Each of God’s favorites had a time in their life when they failed Him. They did wrong. But wrong won’t necessarily keep you from God. Oh, I realize He is Holy and dwells in the light no man can approach, but read this again and mark it down.

Wrong won’t necessarily keep you from God.

Of course, none of the favorites can hold a candle to King Manasseh, where wrong doing is concerned. Neither can we. That should make us feel real good about ourselves since we’re not as bad as someone else. But just because there’s someone “worse” doesn’t guarantee us good standing with the Lord. God doesn’t grade on a curve.

There’s a phrase I’ll use throughout this book; a phrase to help us approach God with faith and humility. The phrase:

“there is no one too good to not need Him, and no one too bad to receive Him.”

Whether Manasseh, Peter, or your sweet, godly old grandmother; everyone needs God. Including you and I.

Have you ever stopped to consider that YOU are one of God’s favorites? If you are alive and living on planet earth, YOU are a favorite of God. How do I know? God showed us by the offering of His Son.

I understand that truth now. But for a good while I didn’t. I was frustrated, jealous, sometimes just plain mad. I felt others were getting a better deal from God than I was. I felt they were the favored ones. Guess what? Just like a kid acts up to get attention, I’ve had my times of acting up, though maybe unconsciously, to try and get Father’s attention or approval.

Bad thing. It feeds the flesh and sows seeds of doubt, bitterness, and discord. Trouble is inevitable.

Trouble is very much a part of my story, but not the whole story. My story includes me acting out my longing for attention, whether the attention of my parents or my God. It can be seen through the life of the younger prodigal, trying to make it big but living small. Trying to be everyone else’s favorite but not realizing I had a place in God’s heart all along.

I was well on my way to throwing away everything for the approval of a few, not understanding the offer God really had for me. Not realizing my value, my place in Him.

The story of the prodigal is next. I want each of us to know how the Father looks at each of His kids. The good ones and the bad ones. Take a good look at the One Who keeps looking at us. How does He see us. How far can He see us? Can we run too far for Him to see? How far can He reach? How do we treat those worse than us, when it appears God’s not seeing things correctly? How come others get the goodies, and we’re stuck with all the work?

A Story continues…

Introduction to… A Story

A Story

Stories.

Everyone has one. Not everyone can or would even want to tell theirs, but everyone has one.

Some stories are so easy to hear, easy to believe, easy to relate to, easy to tell. Others are the complete opposite.

No one’s story should be left untold. No one’s. There is something to be learned from each. Something to help lift someone else out of despair and hopelessness. Something to bring understanding to a life of confusion. Something to identify with; to help someone else realize they are not alone. Even a story of “total failure” can be used to help someone else.

For A Story to be told, there must be three things.

First, the story. Truth. What really happened? Why did it happen? When it happened isn’t so important, because people really haven’t changed much down through the ages. The story’s main participant would be the “who”. How did it happen? The story will detail what’s really important.

Secondly, the storyteller. Possibly the subject of the story, but not necessarily. The storyteller must adhere to the story. Truth. For a story to connect with others, truth is paramount. Hope will not grasp fantasy for long. Fantasy will never bring about lasting change. Truth will. So the storyteller must stay with truth, which is the story.

Finally, the reader. Each reader is in the process of living their own story. One reader’s story may be full of darkness, hopelessness, confusion, perversion. Someone else may have a story of riches and beauty, a wonderful childhood, direction in life, faith in God. There may be any number of life situations in one story. But one thing is certain with every reader. Their final chapter hasn’t yet been written.

As I said, everyone has a story and everyone’s story should be told. This is my story; not my whole story but a segment of it that others, I believe, need to know. A Story others may relate to, draw hope from. A Story that may help others rewrite their own.

I chose to use this medium, my blog, to tell the story. I’ll write a number of chapters over the next several weeks. I pray each reader that is not satified with their story, may find the necessary courage to begin the rewrite process.

Look for truth. Truth makes the story. Truth connects the story with each reader. Truth helps the reader rewrite their own story. Truth is what changed mine.

Stories.

As I said, this one is mine, though it’s not just about me. It’s also A Story about a King named Manasseh, a Father with two prodigal sons, a few of God’s favorite people, and what He does with people gone bad. A Story about failure, family and friends. It’s about Encouragement, Hope and Restoration. It’s about Truth. It’s A Story about Jesus.

And, it’s about you.

Israel, You Are Not Forsaken

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Israel, you are not forsaken…

Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.

The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. Then my enemies will see that the Lord is on my side. They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying, “So where is the Lord – that God of yours?” With my own eyes I will see their downfall; they will be trampled like mud in the streets.

In that day, Israel, your cities will be rebuilt, and your borders will be extended.

People from many lands will come and honor you – from Assyria all the way to the towns of Egypt, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates River, and from distant seas and mountains. But the land will become empty and desolate because of the wickedness of those who live there.

O Lord , protect your people with your shepherd’s staff; lead your flock, your special possession. Though they live alone in a thicket on the heights of Mount Carmel, let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead as they did long ago.

“Yes,” says the Lord , “I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt.” All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the Lord will do for you. They will be embarrassed at their feeble power.

They will cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them. Like snakes crawling from their holes, they will come out to meet the Lord our God. They will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence.

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. (Micah 7:8-20 NLT)

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.

The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord ’s own mouth. The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see – a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. (Isaiah 62:1 – 62:5 NLT)

Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord . Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.

The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine. You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the Lord . Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”

Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The Lord has sent this message to every land:
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”

They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the Lord .” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken (Isaiah 62 NLT)

Israel is always in the news. And though much of the world is totally against this tiny nation (geographically speaking), The Lord God has not forgotten the Covenant He made with Abraham many years ago.

Israel, the Name hated by the world but loved by their Creator. After all, it was Abraham’s God Who changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel, one who has fought with God and with man, and prevailed. (Genesis 32)

Israel, the nation God used to bless the world! The word He spoke to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3 NLT)

Israel. Though nations are trying to pick it apart, as one would pick chicken off a bone, their trouble will last for a brief moment longer. As Ezekiel has said, over and over in his prophetic writings, “then shall they know I am The Lord God.” When? After The Lord has miraculously delivered them from their enemies.

Israel, the apple of God’s eye. And though His eye has cried over the condition of His beloved: the rejection, rebellion, and ruin throughout the years; He has kept Israel in the deepest place of His heart.

Israel, as certain as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you are The Nation of The Covenant. You are “Bethel” (house of bread) to the world. The Grace and Truth God poured into you, and through you, has eternally affected millions of people.

Israel. Some would say you are separated, divorced, from your God. Some would say your sins have declared you unfit for the Holy God. But you will find His compassions fail not; they are new every morning. You will discover His faithfulness far greater than your transgressions.

Israel. You will soon witness the saving power of The Lord, your Maker. You will recognize Him as He comes to you with healing in His wings. You will stand firm, as His everlasting arms support you. You will come to know the Name of Abraham’s Ram that was caught in the thicket; the One that was slain in Isaac’s stead. And you will cry out, “the Lord, my Provider!”

Israel, your Banner and Shield is covering you once again. He is your Shepherd and will see you through to the end.

Israel, rejoice! For the end will be your beginning!

Israel, you are not forsaken.

Love Is An Odd Thing

HeartLove is an odd thing!

It gives without conditions,
It isn’t fearful of what might happen.
It isn’t blind; in fact, love sees things as they really are.
It is like a mirror, accurately reflecting the condition of the one who stops long enough to gaze into it.

It doesn’t demand it’s own way, or complain if inconvenienced.
It won’t require of others anything it hasn’t already done.
It will not steal, rape, or injure. It simply can’t.
It is intimate, but not obscene.

It is secure, in that it doesn’t need to be accepted to know its value.
It never takes advantage of others; their mistakes, their weaknesses, their generosity, or their trust.
It trusts in. It weeps for. It laughs with. Others.
It fulfills every commandment, plus.

It’s like a saucer that sits under a shaky cup of hot coffee. Catching, protecting, gathering, supporting.

It says one thing and does it.
It’s always trying to find a way to reconcile, yet won’t force its way.
It is the motivation behind every great deed.
It doesn’t require a platform to speak from.

It turns a deaf ear to criticism, yet hears the heart’s cry of the lost and hurting.
It outlasts every threat, every rejection, every indifference.
It is imitated by many, but captured by few.
It is the strongest force in the universe, but gentle enough to caress a broken heart.

It is beyond reason, and our wildest dream.

It won’t be fenced in, can’t be bullied.
It’s too good to be true, yet it is the foundation of truth.
It can not be blocked, stopped, quenched, or killed.
It can be ignored and refused. But it lives on, keeps on.

Love is God, God is love.

It is an odd thing.

Forgive me, I have sinned

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Forgive me, for I have sinned.

I’ve been as guilty as the next person. As a matter of fact, I have just plain out and out sinned! “Oh no, brother, what have you done? Have you become trapped in pornography, or started smoking? Maybe you’ve started drinking again…”

No, something more serious than that, I’m afraid.

You see, I am someone who has talked about others, made them the butt end of jokes, and have helped sow discord when I, as a follower of Jesus, should have been sowing unity. I have secretly, and not so secretly, wanted certain people to fail because I don’t agree with their philosophy. I have spoken disparaging words against them and have failed to follow the words of Jesus completely by not praying for them.

You may say, “how could you act so bad?” “I thought you were a Christian!” “And you had the nerve to write a book about the power of encouragement!”

I’m sorry that I have let each one of you down. I let The Lord down, as well.

Most importantly I let President Obama down, along with his staff. Just because I don’t like his policies is no excuse for not praying and believing God for him. When I was a pastor I’m sure the congregation didn’t agree with all my opinions and decisions yet I expected them to pray for me anyway. No difference.

Joseph had a tough life, the children of Israel had it rough as well. Sometimes there were good rulers and sometimes the rulers were rotten. Daniel is an interesting study, as he said to the heathen king, “O king, live forever!” The early church had horrible persecution yet Paul told them to pray for their leaders.

I repent of my Obama jokes, posts, etc. My choice, now, is to be part of God’s solution rather than part of the problem. God HATES those who sow discord, and speaking ill of leadership is sowing discord.

The election is over! That doesn’t mean we just give in to every policy that our leaders come up with, but it does mean we do what God said in His Word. Pray. Believe God can change a heart, change a nation. Speak life, unity, peace, righteousness over our leaders and nation. We cannot speak ill and ugly of someone we carry regularly to God in prayer.

Righteousness exalts a nation. Prayer prepares the way for righteousness. May we be one nation under God.

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