Tag: Forgiveness

I Could’ve Quit Too Soon

It’s been 26 years since I almost quit too soon. I thought about that today while driving to an out of town ministry opportunity. It’s been 26 years since I contemplated driving my van into a telephone pole at 70 miles an hour.

Really, you say? Why would someone like me ever think of taking your life?

Because I thought my life was ruined. And it was all my fault.

You see, due to my sins, my addictions, my secret life, I had thrown away my marriage of 21 years, my son who was 14 at the time and long time friends. I’d also been removed from the church my wife and I had pioneered and pastored for 10 years.

I almost quit too soon.

Since that day my marriage, family, friends and ministry have been restored. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something that took place overnight; but it happened. And I’ve lived to see some incredible things take place; things I would have missed if I had quit too soon.

I remember talking with my counselor during this terrible time. I had told him what I had been thinking while driving in the country on old highway 6. He got right in my face (something he did quite often those days) and reminded me that even though I had lost my “ministry”, and probably was going to lose my wife, I still had a responsibility to be a dad to our son, and a person God could depend on.

At that point I couldn’t see how anyone, including God, would want anything to do with a jerk like myself.

But I didn’t quit because God and others wouldn’t let me quit.

They kept reminding me of God’s truth.

Truth such as, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) 

And, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 ESV)

Eventually I began to see a glimmer of hope. God was doing miracles in my life. He was restoring my life and bringing His glory into view. Beyond my wildest dreams, He was showing Himself as more than enough for every part of my life.

Including all my failures.

Like I said before, I almost quit too soon.

Too soon to see my marriage restored. Too soon to see my son graduate from high school, eventually marry a wonderful woman, and just 11 months ago have a beautiful son. 

Wow. I could’ve quit before all of that.

But thank God I didn’t.

How about you? Has life become such a burden you feel you can’t take any more? Is your life out of control and you think you’ve hurt too many people? Do you see suicide as the best solution?

Don’t quit too soon.

There is more to living than what you’re experiencing at this moment. There is help available, though you may not see it yet.

And some day, like me, you will look back on this tough thing you’re engulfed in, give a sigh of relief and say…

“I could’ve quit too soon.”

Why won’t you forgive me when I tell you I’m sorry?

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These days, the words, “I’m sorry” are about as genuine and believable as a university head basketball/football coach’s signature on a multiyear contract.

In other words, they mean nothing.

“But why won’t people believe me when I say I’m sorry? Why do I have to jump through so many hoops before they forgive me?”

Let’s think about it for a minute or two.

I like the folks who think Jesus said, “If a brother sins against you, don’t get mad or judge him. Calmly let him know he hurt your feelings. And if he says, ‘I’m sorry’, believe him and let him slide.”

Honestly, there are people who think Jesus said those words.

But here’s what He REALLY said:

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3 – 17:4 ESV)

Notice Jesus said we’re to rebuke (call to account) the one who sins against us. IF he repents (acknowledges his wrongdoing and turns from it) we’re to forgive.

“I’m sorry” isn’t the same as repentance. 

Paul demonstrated this truth in his letters to the Corinthian church.

In the first letter, he told them to judge (rebuke sharply) a young man who was having sex with his father’s wife (chapter 5). The idea was to help bring the man to repentance; see him change his mind as well as his actions.

In the second letter, Paul told them that their godly response toward the man did what he had hoped; it made the man face his sin and with godly sorrow he turned from his sinful ways.

Paul said, “NOW you need to forgive him and restore him…”
He then reminded them of the difference between godly sorrow (sorrow that changes one’s behavior) and worldly sorrow (sorrow that merely says, “I’m sorry”).

“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9 – 7:10 NASB)

So why don’t people believe you when you say those magic words “I’m sorry”?

And why won’t they automatically forgive you, even though you’ve uttered those two special words?

Maybe it’s because you’re always saying them, yet never displaying any remorse or desire to change your behavior. Perhaps it’s because of your “you have to forgive me” attitude.

And it could be you have never believed you are capable of being wrong.

Yes, it’s true people should be quick to forgive; it is ALSO true people are to take their cue from God. We must forgive as He forgives.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NASB)

“Just as…”

God’s work of salvation, including the forgiveness of sins found in the substitutionary work of Jesus, will only be experienced by someone IF they repent and believe. No repentance, no forgiveness.

“I’m sorry, God”, is a start; but not if there’s no change of heart and mind.

Remember, we’re told to forgive “just as…”. So, no repentance, no forgiveness.

It was true then, and it’s true now.

So just because you’re quick to say, “I’m sorry”, doesn’t mean I or anyone else has to be quick to forgive.

Repentance? That’s a whole different story.

“I’m sorry”? If you say those words because it’s a habit, every time someone holds you accountable, you might as well say, “I did it, I’m glad I did it, and I’m gonna do it again; so there!”

It will mean just as much as “I’m sorry”.

Maybe, for once, along with “I’m sorry”, you could add, “Will you please help me? I don’t want to keep offending you, God, or anyone else.”

That is, if you truly mean it.

If you have true repentance.

If not, then I’m sorry; you’ll just have to deal with the consequences.

Are You Hiding In The Bushes?

I’d like to begin this post with two questions.

The first – “Are you hiding in the bushes?”

The second – “Who’s in the bushes with you?”

Not long after God created Adam and Eve, not long after He blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply, and shortly after telling them they had dominion over every bird in the sky, fish in the sea, and creepy-crawly thing on the ground, a certain serpent invaded their territory with a question.

“Did God actually say…?”

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)

Notice the “serpent was more crafty…”, meaning he was cunning, conniving, and should never be trusted. We know that now, but Adam and Eve weren’t aware the serpent’s master was Lucifer, the adversary of God.

We know the devil can’t be trusted, but sometimes we act like Adam and Eve. We listen to his faith weakening, flesh enticing questions and suggestions.

And sometimes we end up in the bushes, just like Adam and Eve.

Many feel as though the serpent was crafty because he was able to manipulate the First Couple into disobeying their Creator. Yes, I’d have to agree; that was pretty cagey.

But here’s what really amazes me.

When they realized they were naked, and heard the sound of God walking through the garden, they listened to the serpent once again and jumped into the bushes. 

Hiding from God with His adversary.

Hiding in the bushes with the devil.

You may think I’m reading more into the passage than I should. I don’t think so, and here’s why.

I know the devil was standing (slouching) with them because of something Eve said. She told God, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” When she said that, I can picture her pointing to the serpent next to her.

God didn’t leave the pair to go snake hunting. He said to the serpent right then and there, “You’ve had it!” And, eventually, the devil realized he had bitten off more than he could chew.

You are probably wondering why I think it’s such a big deal, hiding with the adversary and all. So, I’ll try and explain what I mean.

It’s one thing to disobey God. Outside of Jesus, there’s not one of us since Adam and Eve who haven’t disobeyed Him at some point in our life. At least once (hah!)

Disobedience is a terrible thing, and affects so many. But there’s something even worse than sin.

What!? Something worse than sin? 

Yes. Much worse, as far as I’m concerned.

What could be worse?

Hiding in the bushes from the only One Who can forgive and turn things around. Hiding in the bushes with the one whose whole agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy. As long as Adam and Eve stayed in the bushes, they were vulnerable to everything around them. They were naked, and they knew it.

They were now subject to fear, torment, and of course, the shame of disobedience. And the longer they hid, the longer the devil controlled them. 

Are YOU hiding in the bushes? Have you, sometime in the past, either ignored or rejected the commands of God and, instead, swallowed the tempting bait the devil tossed at you?

Don’t you think it’s time to come out of hiding? God hasn’t quit calling your name. He knows where you’re at, but you have to take the first step toward Him and declare, “Here I am.”

Those three little words are enough to turn the forces of evil from you, as God draws you to His side and clothes you in His righteousness.

“Here I am, Lord. I step away from the bushes, away from my excuses, away from my habits, and into Your light and love.”

Sure, God will say, “What happened?” But He already knows. He’s asking you for YOUR benefit.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 ESV) 

Yes, I believe it’s time, past time, to come out of hiding and into the light of His glorious love.

“He is faithful and just to forgive you of all sin, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness…”

What do think?

Scared Out Of Hell

 
I remember the time, way back in 1975, that my soul cried out to God. A God I didn’t know, wasn’t sure if I wanted to know Him, and didn’t pay much attention to what people were telling me about Him. You know, all the “God loves you” jargon. 

No, I didn’t cry out to God because I loved Him or because I heard He loved me. 

I cried out to God because I was scared. Just plain scared. 

I had a revelation, realization, or whatever you’d like to call it; I knew if I died before I got things straight with God I was going to hell. 

That scared me. Scared me enough to take the necessary action.

Some people thought, and maybe still think, I was stupid. They’re convinced hell isn’t a real place, that hell is what we make of this life. Same with heaven. 

“It’s all in how you look at it”, the wise ones say. “Treat people the way you want to be treated, and Heaven becomes a day to day reality. Treat people like crap, and you’ve made your own hell.” 

However, there was this man who said a few things about hell. He talked about hell, and heaven, like you and I talk about Chicago or Detroit. Real places. 

I’ve been to Chicago so I know it is real. I’ve never been to Detroit, so I’m not so sure about that. And to hear some folks talk about it, maybe I don’t want to go there. If it’s even real. 

No, this man who referred to heaven and hell a number of times, also said some other things; things people like to quote. 

Things like: judge not, it’s more blessed to give than receive, don’t call anyone a fool, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Great sayings, by a great man. But can He be trusted? Can you trust Him? After all, if He’s lying about heaven and hell, what makes you think He’s telling the truth the rest of the time?

Jesus is not a liar. He spoke of hell, and heaven, because He knew they existed. Though you and I can’t see them (yet), there’s coming a day when we will. 

One or the other. 

That’s why I was scared. I had heard in order to go to heaven (and thus miss hell, the place of the damned), I had to be as perfect, as sinless, as God. At that time, I wasn’t sure just how righteous God was, but I knew He had me beat. 

I didn’t know if He’d done anything wrong, but I knew I had. 

That reminds me: why do people say, “why you’d sure as hell better believe thus and so” when they don’t believe in hell in the first place?

Anyway, like I said, I KNEW I had done plenty of things wrong, so if hell was a real place, I was in a heap of trouble. 

Fire, sulfur, brimstone, total darkness, wailing and gnashing of teeth. My friends told me they planned on going to hell so they could party. But those words didn’t describe any party I’d want to attend. 

Especially one lasting forever and ever…

Have you ever heard a person wail and gnash their teeth? I have. When I was 15 I spent 30 days in the psychiatric ward of the county hospital. While there I was entertained (?) one night by a middle aged woman crying, at the top of her lungs, in an ear piercing, hair raising scream, “My straitjacket’s too tight! My straitjacket’s too tight!” 

No, when I heard that Jesus described hell as having people like had I met in the hospital, crying day and night, forever…

I got scared. So I called on the name of the Lord. “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'”. (Romans 10:11-13 ESV)

Call me stupid for being so fearful if you’d like. I don’t care. You see, since that time, you know, back in 1975, I’ve learned a whole lot more about the God I cried out to. 

I learned He really does love me, and proved it by sending His only Son, Jesus, to take my place on the cross, and made my payment to hell. He who was sinless died for the creep I was, and all others like me.

And God pronounced all debts paid when He raised Him from the dead that first resurrection morning. 

I’ve discovered He is merciful and kind, and is trying to let everyone know hell is not the place He WANTS to send them; He only HAS to send them when they reject His offer of eternal life. 

I’ve learned a lot about God, but even better is I’ve come to know Him personally. He leads me and guides me, providing for all my needs. 

Because of His love. 

Yes, I can love Him now because He first loved me. 

And you know what? His perfect love has driven the fear of hell completely out of me. 

I once was scared, but now I’m not, for I’ve had the hell scared out of me. 

And loved out of me. 

How Great Is God’s Love?

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I’ve heard it said that God’s love is beyond description. I believe I understand what they mean.

Yet there is a way one can really grasp the greatness of that love, like they’ve never grasped it before.

Here’s a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT)

Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and us) to have the power to understand how wide, long, high, and deep God’s love is. And he didn’t mean some kind of mental acknowledgement. He prayed we would experience the love of Christ, even though it’s too great to understand fully.

As I said before, I believe there’s a way for us to know and experience the love of God as never before. How?

By understanding the holiness of God, and His absolute hatred of sin.

There’s no gray area; with God things are either right or wrong, good or bad, sinful or righteous. He has never just turned His head and ignored sin. He’s not like us; sometimes we’ll ignore it because we either don’t know what to do or we would rather not be bothered.

But as I said, that’s not God’s way at all. He hates sin with such a pure hatred only He can fathom.

And His hatred is perfectly just. He is perfect in His judgments, perfect in His assessments.

There’s nothing you or I can say or do to appease His anger for our wrong doing. We deserve the full fury of His hatred of sin.

He is right, we are wrong; we are without an excuse.

Forever.

There is only one thing greater than His wrath. Only one thing more powerful than His righteous anger. 

His love. 

His love satisfies the demands of His righteous anger. His love makes a once and for all payment, releasing us from His wrath.

That’s how great His love is.

His Son came to take our place, standing in our stead, absorbing all of the Father’s just and holy hatred for sin. God poured out His fury on His Son. 

So His love could be available to us.

To anyone and everyone who receives His Son as their Lord and Savior, God sees them as people worthy of His love.

Really? Worthy of His love? Yes. Because of our new place in Christ. The Father looks on us through the eternal work of His Son.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

How great is His love? Great enough to span the gap sin created between the righteous, holy God and people like you and I. People who could never get anywhere near God on our own merits. 

How great is God’s love?

Great enough to do the impossible, change the unchangeable, and turn a rebellious and selfish heart into one that is full of grace and mercy for others.

How great is God’s love?

Great enough to change your life. My life.

Forever.

An Adulterous Affair 

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“It just happened. One day I was deeply in love with my wife, and the next day I found myself in bed with another woman.”

“I don’t know what happened!”

“I wasn’t flirting. I’m just an innocent victim.”

“My husband is never around. Even when he’s home, he’s got some stupid ball game on. But I never dreamed I’d find myself in the arms of another man.”

In today’s world, adulterous affairs seem to be the norm. Most of us know someone who’s been caught in the trap. 

Maybe you’ve been caught.

I know what it’s like to bear the guilt of an adulterous affair. I also know about God’s grace, and the love of a godly wife. I’m not proud of myself. I AM thankful to my Savior who, along with my wife, gave me another chance at purity.

But this post isn’t about me; it’s about you. It’s about something I heard the other day. Actually, I read it twenty years ago but was reminded of it just yesterday.

When I first read it I thought, “That’s exactly right! It’s just how things happened in my life.”

So when I heard it yesterday I knew I needed to share it with you. Because you may be about to be caught in the snare of an adulterous affair.

Emotional, sexual, or an affair involving fantasizing with pornography; it’s still an affair. It still steals, kills, and destroys.

But you don’t have to let it happen. 

No one accidentally becomes an adulterer. No one. People make a series of choices, bad choices, that carry them along the pathway to ruin.

I don’t know who originally wrote this (12 steps – I added the description to each one), but it’s true and full of wisdom. Pay attention and examine your life carefully.

There are 12 steps to an affair.

1. Readiness – not necessarily on the prowl, but your heart isn’t guarded either. Loose eyes, wandering thoughts, ever appreciative of eye candy. Discreetly, of course.

2. Alertness – you seem to notice when someone looks your way more than usual. You curiously return the glances, or find ways to interact with your new found friend.

3. Innocent Meeting – “Well look who’s here. Fancy meeting you here.” Or so you say, when all along you were hoping to see them.

4. Intentional Meeting – you’ve learned your friend’s schedule, and you begin to justify your feelings. You are becoming trapped. But it’s not too late to back out.

5. Public Lingering – such fun; being with the other person. Even if your spouse is around, you’re getting an emotional high out of just being in the presence of this dear, precious person.

6. Private Lingering – you’re pretty bold by now; caution has been thrown overboard. You haven’t touched your “attraction” yet, but you’re closer to the sack than the altar. You are in a very dangerous place.

7. Purposeful Isolation – by now, you’re looking for any and every reason to communicate with you know who. Sneaking, lying, whatever it takes to make contact.

As you’re reading this, are you thinking of a particular person? Is there someone you’ve become a little too chummy with?

If so, break it off right now. The longer you stay connected, the closer you are to ruin.

8. Pleasurable Isolation – alone at last, where you can speak openly with each other. Alone, except for the all-seeing, all-knowing God who has been trying to get your attention.

9. Affectionate Embracing – nothing physical, other than a caring hug. However, you are a mess on the inside because your heart is trapped, entangled emotionally with someone who doesn’t belong to you. Someone other than your spouse.

10. Passionate Embracing – hands flying everywhere. You’re just about finished. You’ve lost control. To stop now you’ll have to practically cut off your hands and feet. You’re on autopilot, getting ready to crash.

11. Copulation – nestled between the sheets with the devil.

And finally…

12. Acceptance – this is the scariest part of all. You’ve become calloused to true love, to commitment, and to those who’ve loved you through thick and thin.

Hard-hearted. 

“God wants me to be happy.”

Yes, He does. But true happiness begins with holiness. Living life according to His principles, as well as your marriage vows.

12 Steps.

If you’ve found yourself at one of these steps, here’s what you need to do:

1. Repent.

2. Break off any connection or contact.

3. Talk with a true friend, possibly a pastor, who will pray with you and help you get free.

4. Don’t lie to your friend, or yourself.

5. Work on “returning” home; first off, emotionally.

May you find freedom before it’s too late.

An adulterous affair can become an eternal nightmare.

Forgive Thyself?

IMG_7174.PNGWe ran into a friend of ours the other day at Lowe’s Home Improvement store. A friend who just happens to be a counselor.

While my wife and I visited with him, catching up on a couple years of stuff, we also reminisced about some of our counseling sessions from 20 years ago.

By the way, this counselor was one of the heroes God had in place to save my life and our marriage some 22 years ago. Wow!

Anyway, while we were chatting, our friend told us about something he’d been mulling around in his heart and mind for a while.

I haven’t been able to set it aside.

There’s a saying that’s been passed around for years; when it began I haven’t the foggiest.

WHERE it came from I have more than a sneaking suspicion.

The saying?

“You’ve got to forgive yourself.”

Or, to make it sound a little more righteous and spiritually authentic, just use a little of the King’s English, “Forgive thyself.

You’ve heard it, haven’t you? Maybe even said it?

But is it true?

No.

Self-forgiveness is something concocted by the devil to keep us away from TRUE, GENUINE FORGIVENESS. 

Adam and Eve TRIED to “forgive themselves”. But THEIR covering could never prove to be adequate. It took something much more substantial, much more personal. It required God’s intervention.

You may find the saying on the Internet, but you won’t find it in God’s Word, the Bible.

Why? Because you and I aren’t powerful enough, or pure enough, to expunge or earn our own forgiveness.

“But what if we sin only against ourselves?”

That is impossible. Because even IF no other human is affected, God is.

Sin affects God.

God forgives sin, through His Son Jesus Christ, and we forgive OTHERS who may have sinned against us. OTHERS can forgive us, but no one can forgive themselves. 

“But I feel like I need to, because of what I’ve done in the past.”

Do you feel the guilt and shame over something you’ve done in the past? Have you asked God to forgive you, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?

Have you asked those affected and offended to forgive you? Have you made the necessary restitution, if possible?

The “need” to forgive yourself is rooted in distrust and pride.

Distrust because God didn’t really mean what He said about forgiveness; at least where you’re concerned.

Pride, as your sin is far greater than the power of the Name and Blood of Jesus.

Yes, I really do understand the uncomfortable feelings of humility and the overwhelming sensation of complete brokenness because of how many people I hurt by doing something stupid AND morally wrong.

Sin has consequences, and some of them are extremely hard to stomach. 

If you’re in that very unpleasant spot, forgiving yourself is not what you need to do. You can’t.

What you CAN do, after you’ve made things right with God AND others, is this:

1. Remember the pain, humility, harsh words; anything that resulted because of YOUR actions. On purpose. Don’t whitewash them, and don’t try and throw off any of YOUR guilt. Own YOUR ACTIONS. Do NOT attempt to justify any part of YOUR actions, like “I wouldn’t have done what I did IF…”

2. Take your pain, all that you’re remembering, and mentally place it on the cross with Jesus. It may help to read some of the verses I’ve included on this post. It also might benefit you to read, aloud, Isaiah 53:3-6. 

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 ESV)

3. Receive, by faith, again and again if necessary, the forgiveness JESUS purchased for you and I. You may need to pull out Psalm 103:2,3, reading it every day. “…Who forgives ALL your iniquities…”

4. Open your mouth and “confess” you are forgiven by God Almighty! Confession isn’t only about acknowledging sin. The word “confess” means to speak the same thing. The same thing as who? The same thing as God. When the Lord calls a thing wrong, or sin, then do the same. “This is wrong.” If you’re guilty of such a thing, confess it; “I am wrong.”

But when you’ve done that, and have asked God to forgive you, then confess His ANSWER, “God has forgiven me based on His Blood and His Word (then begin reading the pertinent verses OUT LOUD).

Here are some scriptures for you to read and learn. Don’t try and make do with a fig leaf. Get your REAL covering, AND complete forgiveness from the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.

“Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:18 ESV)

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1 ESV)

“Lord…You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin.” (Psalm 85:1-2 ESV)

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” (Psalm 86:5 ESV)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3 ESV)

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 ESV)

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12-15 ESV)

“…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:6 ESV)

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35 ESV)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,”  (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15 ESV)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12 ESV)

 

Intentions and Actions

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I heard something a long time ago that is probably appropriate for today’s world. 

Are you ready for this?

We love to judge people by their actions, and yet demand they judge us by our intentions. 

“Here’s what I meant…”

“Let me explain to you what I was thinking…”

“I realize what it looked like, or sounded like, but that wasn’t what I was saying…”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Give them the benefit of the doubt”?

It implies taking into consideration, as you are gathering the facts you’ll use to pass judgment upon someone, that it’s impossible to know everything about someone; their actions AND their motives.

Notice I said “impossible”.

I’ll admit I have been as guilty as anyone; judging and sentencing someone I “know” is as guilty as sin.

But I could be missing something important.

Jesus said something that just might save you and I a lot of heartache and trouble; IF we take heed.

“For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:2 NLT)

The standard. The rule. The measuring stick. Used by one for all.

“I know what I see and hear. Therefore, because I saw you do… and say… you are guilty.”

So, with that “understanding”, your next move is to sentence the criminal. This is done in a number of ways:

1. Belittling

2. Demeaning

3. Ignoring

4. Ostracizing

5. Gossiping

6. Physical attacks

But is that the way YOU want to be treated? Are YOU ready to be tethered to the same leash you want others to be tied to? 

It’s not a good idea.

You see, there’s only One Who knows everything about everyone.

And neither you, nor I, are that person.

We are told throughout the scriptures to judge with righteous judgment.

However, most people, myself included, have an extremely hard time judging one’s actions apart from any personal bias. 

Again, there’s only One Who can.

So the next time you build a case against someone, stop and think. Is it possible you may have missed something in the way you interpreted their actions, heard their conversation, or read their writings? Would YOU want someone to draw and quarter you based on the same information?

What would Jesus do?

The Christmas Fence

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Have you ever considered the value of a fence? I mean, why do people build fences? You never hear of animals building them; only people find it necessary to have a fence. Only people NEED a fence.

There are various kinds of fences: wooden, privacy, chain link, barbed wire, and split rail fences to name a few. And there’s one other kind of fence you probably haven’t heard of…

The Christmas Fence.

Before I describe the Christmas Fence, I’ll explain one reason why people need a fence.

Protection.

People want and need to protect their personal belongings, including their spiritual, mental, and physical health. There are plenty of “wild animals” around that would just love to steal, kill, and destroy anyone and anything in their path. Hence, the need for a fence.

What happens to people who tear their fence down? How long can they stay safe from the beasts of prey? Beasts like the roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour? How long?

You may ask why would an intelligent person do such a nutty thing? Why indeed!

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