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Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

incompetentAll of us have people in our lives who annoy us. Most of the time, our annoyance comes from the fact (in our eyes at least) that that person is incompetent in everything they do. One day, years ago now, I was coaching a little league baseball team. I received a call from one of the parents asking for the name and number of my immediate superior. I gladly gave him the information he requested and then asked if he’d mind sharing with me the reason he wanted to talk with my supervisor.

His response when something like this, “I want to talk to him about how incompetent you are as a coach.”

That set me back on my heels a bit! For one thing, the player in question was one of our better players and one that I felt I had a good relationship with. I’d also talked with this dad on occasion and never felt any animosity between us.

My nature, as I’m sure many of ours would be in that situation, would lead me to be very defensive and offended by his remark. Somehow that day, however, I remained calm and in the discussion that followed, was able to diffuse what turned out to be a lack of information and misunderstanding.

Sociologists will tell us that there are two main responses to attack, fight or flight. Jesus offers a third option, forgiveness based on the understanding that we have been forgiven for our faults as well. Jesus forgave us when we were at our worst so that we could be our best for him.

It’s not easy to accept others weaknesses, or as Paul puts it, “Make allowances for the faults of others”. “Making allowances for each other’s faults” involves two actions on our part. One is to realize that we too have been forgiven for many faults. The second is to rely on the Holy Spirit to work through us to forgive and through our antagonist to bring them to a relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER: Father God. I want to take this time to meditate on my faults and thank you for your forgiveness. I ask that your Holy Spirit would give me the power I need to forgive others when their actions are hurtful or offensive to me. Let me show them the love you’ve shown me. Amen.



This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Isaiah 48:17

paths we choose“I told you so.”

Don’t you hate hearing those words? Perhaps they are the words of a friend or a parent or an employer. You thought you had a better idea. You were warned that your idea wouldn’t work. You went ahead anyway and did what you thought best.

If you had been right you’d be a hero right now. But you weren’t. In fact, your decision has made a huge mess for yourself as well as those around you. Now you have to suffer the consequences. Not only that, your decision is like a pebble dropped into a still pool. The ripple effect with affect your life and the life of others for a long time, maybe eternity. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Whether your decision was personal (such as family, kids, lifestyle), or career oriented, there’s some good news for you. We human beings tend to make decisions that lean towards our own understanding and comfort level. Our finite minds aren’t always able to grasp the full impact of our decisions.

The good news is that there is redemption available to us. Redemption is defined as “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.” The implication is that if you need redeeming it’s because of an action you are responsible for, or an action that is outside your control. In other words, whether the consequences are your fault or the fault of another you have hope.

Each of us have no doubt been told something by a parent or teacher and knowingly taken a different path because it looked better and easier to us. Even worse are those times when we knowingly go against what God has told us to do. We do so either intentionally, or in ignorance because we didn’t check with God before we acted.

We are redeemed. That’s the message God give us in Isaiah 48:17. The prophet reminds us that “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.

Another way of stating this verse might be to say this. “I know what’s best for you. I’ll teach you all you need to know. But WHEN you stray from me and take the wrong path, I’ll redeem you. When you focus on your own comfort rather than my glory, I’ll redeem you. When your actions cause turmoil for yourself and those around you, I’ll redeem you.

What a blessed promise we have of redemption through Jesus Christ. He alone frees us from everything that seeks to imprison us.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times I see my own comfort. So many times I take the path I think best even though I know it’s the wrong path to take. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you that he alone is my redemption from myself and the evil others plan for me. Amen.


“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:32-36

broken chainsOne of the cruelest tricks in human nature is to believe you are free when, in fact, you are in bondage. Likewise, one of the hardest things to admit is that you are enslaved by something over which you have no control. That’s why addicts have a hard time admitting they are an addict. That’s why those in abusive situations have a hard time leaving. The abnormal has become normal to them.

One day, Jesus was talking with his followers and told them that truth would free them. They were shocked! Why would they need to be freed? They were in bondage to no one. The irony here is that while Jesus was talking about the bondage of sin, his followers were in bondage to the Roman Empire. But the bondage to Rome was so ‘normal’ they didn’t even realize they were slaves!

Freedom from bondage requires two things. One is that we are fully aware of our condition. It’s easy to say ‘I’m a sinner’ without carefully identifying each thing in our lives that enslave us. I’m a terrible cleaner. It’s not intentional. I just miss the corners, and overlook the little things. The same goes our spiritual lives. Rather than relying on our own ability to ‘see our bondage’ we need to go to the one who knows us best. That’s why the Psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

The second thing we need to do to ensure we are not in bondage is to realize who we are in God’s eyes. When sin is in control of our lives we are slaves to it and we are blinded to the truth. When we have been freed from sin through Jesus Christ we are as sons, in intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Fatherhood has a bad rap these days. Most earthly fathers have a reputation of working too hard to make money, being more concerned about their own needs, wants and egos and ready at any moment to pounce on anyone who makes a mistake.

Your Heavenly Father is the kind of dad who shows up at every ballgame or concert. When you make a mistake he doesn’t remind you of how much of a loser you are, he encourages you and teaches you how you can be all you were meant to be.

A relationship with Christ means we have all the freedoms of sons. As we grow closer to our father through reading his word, prayer and corporate worship we gain new understanding into all that God has for us. When Jesus left us he sent his promised helper, the Holy Spirit to guide us into all things, and to understand all that God has for us.

PRAYER: Father God. Search my heart. Show me the things that offend you. Give me the courage to confess my weaknesses. May your Spirit work a change in me for your glory so that I can be completely, totally and eternally free. In Jesus name, Amen.


“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15

conflictEach of us have gone through those periods of time when relationships fail. Those relationships that are closest are the most painful to lose. Some translations leave out the phrase “against you”. Others include it. In reality, as followers of Jesus it doesn’t really matter if the wrong is committed against you (most painful) or against others. Either way, the offense is destined to hurt a brother or sister in Christ and others!

So what do we do? It’s easy enough to say we need to pray. Sometimes prayer is a scapegoat and can be better paraphrased as “I don’t want to get personally involved” or “I hate conflict” or “It’s really none of my business, it’s God’s job to do the work.”

There is some truth to each of these excuses. But, the reality is, Jesus never shied away from involving himself in the ugly part of ugly people’s lives. Aren’t we called to do the same?

Here are some suggestions for what may help. I’ll say up front that I’m still working on these in my life and it’s not easy. I have a long way to go! Praise Jesus for grace!

Pray: This is the obvious but be specific. Pray for your wisdom. Pray for the welfare of the one who wronged you or who is in danger of hurting themselves or others. Pray FOR them, not ABOUT them. Remember prayer is a two way conversation with the wisest, most loving being in the universe!

Reflect: This mixes in easily with prayer. As you are praying ask God to reveal anything YOU may have done to bring on this situation. Rather than focus on what the person did, try to ascertain why the person may have acted as he did. Most of the time, actions are a symptom, not the disease.

Ask: This is a tricky one and must be used with the utmost care and wisdom. If you have a close friend you can trust to make sure this goes no further, ask them for insight into the situation. Be careful not to turn this into a gossip session!!

Restore: Restoration demands action! To be done well, restoration is done with love. It can’t be hurried. First attempts often fail. Compassion and patience are the two best tools to use. If at all possible, refrain from step four until steps 1-3 are firmly in place!

Rest: The Psalmist states that during the storm we rest in the arms of almighty God. Remember that once we have done all we can to lovingly, gracefully and compassionately strive for resolution, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of healing.

PRAYER: Father God. Right now, I pray for those with whom I am in conflict and those I’m concerned about because they are in danger of destroying themselves or others. Give me wisdom to know what I need to do to begin the healing process. Help me follow you. Amen.

 


For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11

Small stuff 2.9.2016One time I was being my father’s chauffeur to a speaking engagement. We decided to stop for lunch at a favorite chain restaurant of ours. Rather than order my ‘usual’ I decided to try something different. It was close to Thanksgiving and I decided to try the daily special, a Turkey Omelet. I’ve always been an omelet fan and I like turkey. Seemed like a winning combination. It wasn’t. While the picture looked good and the presentation was good, something in the recipe made it virtually inedible for my taste buds.

I’m sure we’ve all run into situations like that. It may be food, a different route, a new piece of clothing, a relationship or any number of other things. From a distance it looks good to us but once we’ve made the commitment we realize we’ve made a mistake.

David had that experience on night when he was relaxing on the roof of his castle when his eyes wandered to the house next door and a woman bathing. His mind wandered and his feet followed. What seemed like a good idea in a moment of carelessness, led to a series of actions that nearly destroyed his kingdom, badly tarnished his kingdom and caused life-long problems to his family.

The Psalmist writes “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”(Psalm 84:11)

The sun offers us warmth, guidance, life and encouragement. A shield gives us security and protection from the enemy. David learned the secret to holy living in a human realm wasn’t perfection but confession and repentance

While our perception of what is good is finite; God’s perception of what is good is eternal. Like David, we make mistakes in life. Some of those mistakes lead to harsh consequences. Regardless of what we have done the warmth of the SON gives us new life through forgiveness. The SHIELD of the Holy Spirit protects us from the enemy, and sometimes the biggest enemy we face is ourselves.

God always gives us the way out. He always gives us something that we can use to get through the struggle we are in. He’s our strength and our shield when life gets hard. When we learn to give him all our secrets we find him more than faithful to bless us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the forgiveness we have in you through Jesus. So many times I find myself focusing on things that look good to me but aren’t best for me. Help me to see things through the light of your Son. Protect me from the schemes of the enemy. Amen.

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