Forgiveness


prisoner

Some of the greatest miracles and healings have come into my life through forgiveness.  It is an interesting phenomenon–forgiveness.  When I forgive, it is not the person that I forgive who receives the miracle.  It was me.

I cannot say that I’ve had more to forgive than most because life is hard for all of us.  No matter what your circumstances or generational history, life has a way of taking each of us and wringing all the marrow from our bones.  Without Divine intervention, we eventually collapse from the weight of our own empty carcass and die.

moldForgiveness is one of the miraculous life-giving principles that the Lord has given to us to renew our minds and bodies.  At times, unforgiveness can be a tricky business.  Like damaging mold, it can hide behind walls we build to protect ourselves from harm.  We prance glibly along not understanding that a damaging parasite is growing in our bodies that will eventually kill us if it isn’t fumigated from our systems.

For years, I carried a hidden resentment toward my parents that seemed to remain under the surface. Because no one was hurt by the things I’d observed, I had no concern about dealing with this festering little pimple.  Nevertheless, I slowly realized that I had fallen into the same habit that had been abhorrent to me all during my childhood.

I could not seem to break the pattern until I discovered the miracle of forgiveness.  The scripture that set me free is Matthew 6:14 and 15.  “Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins” (NCV).

Even though I knew this familiar verse that follows the Lord’s example prayer, I had not applied it to this situation.  As soon as I told the Lord I forgave my parents and asked him to forgive me of my petty resentment,  I experienced a miracle in my spirit that still lingers in my memory decades later.

The sad part was that when I explained to my mother about the annoyance I held, she laughed.  “Oh, Honey.  I didn’t do that for your dad.  I did that for me!  It was only for my sake I did it.  At times, your father even resented my actions.”

I had kept that festering indignation for years and it was not even justified.  Had I not experienced the Lord’s miracle of forgiveness, I could still be hurting and following the same pattern of behavior that caused my animosity.

I had to learn that forgiveness is not a feeling but an act of my will.  The word Jesus used in the Greek means “to send away from one’s self.”  Feelings can trick you into believing things that are not true.  True forgiveness may not result in goosey feeling.  However, it will result in a miracle in the spirit man.

Advertisements

waterGod is Forgiving

Psalm 86:5

Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me.

Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water on to the floor.  If not pour it into a saucer or rag.)  This rag is wet and it will be wet for a long time.  If I slap Sam in the face, will it hurt?  Yes.  I can’t instantly make this rag dry again.  If I hit Sam, I can‘t take it back.  Folks, we find ourselves in a mess.  We sin and we can’t take the bad things back.  We can’t make the rag dry.  And a slap will always hurt. But there is one thing we have.  We can get God’s forgiveness when we sin. Have a member read Psalm 86:5.

I.     Tell the story of David and Bathsheba

1.  David slept with Bathsheba; then he killed her husband.

2.  God told David that he was a sinner.

II.     David asked God to forgive him.

A. God did forgive David.

1.  God says that David was a man whose heart was like God‘s.

2.  But David had sinned and even God’s forgiveness did not take away the results of those sins.

B. David‘s little son died and many other bad things happened to his family after that.

III.     God forgives but he does not always take away the bad effects of those sins.  –Ex:  a woman who became a Christian after she had killed someone.  She still had to die.

Conclusion–God forgives everyone who asks for forgiveness.

Walking tall and straight, she had a commanding effect when she entered a room.  Even after strokes, sickness and the loss of language, Frances sat erect in her wheelchair and her presence demanded attention.  Frances wasn’t a woman who entertained fools.  Frances spoke through the experience of years in prayer and studying God’s word.  Often, her words were stern and sharp, reaching into the souls of men and women and pulling out the most heart wrenching hurts.  Then she would pray for healing and release.  And God answered her pleas for mercy and grace again and again.

Roman 11 speaks of the kindness and sterness of God.  Our Lord is unbelievably kind to those who follow him. Yet, unrelentlessly stern to women and men who refuse to trust and release themselves into his saving grace.  It is a part of God’s nature from which even his most faithful worshipers turn away because of humanity’s lack of understanding into the nature of our Father.

However, Paul tells us that it is God’s sternness that allows us to see your own inability to handle even the most simple details of life.  It is the Father’s unrelenting pressure pushing us away from Him into greater depth of  sin–wrapped in our rebellion–which drives us to His loving forgiveness and grace.

As Frances’ daughter I was often the target of her sterness and the object of her love.  In pondering Roman 11, I’ve yearned for the Lord to teach me the truth of his character revealed in these startling verses.  He drew my thoughts back to my own mother, Frances.  She was never the tender and compassionate matriarch. Frances was the teacher and leader who gave firm directions with her eyes, her actions and her words.  However, there was never a doubt regarding her love for us.

Frances’ selfless love often extendied past her family into a lost and dying world.  While her words and actions seemed stern to those closest to Frances, we never doubted her heart was kind, forgiving and merciful.  This is the picture of our loving Father revealed by Paul in Romans 11.

32 God has given all people over to their stubborn ways so that he can show mercy to all.

 33 Yes, God’s riches are very great, and his wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain the things God decides or understand his ways. 34 As the Scripture says,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been able to give him advice?” — Isaiah 40:13
35 “No one has ever given God anything
that he must pay back.” — Job 41:11

36 Yes, God made all things, and everything continues through him and for him. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

God is Forgiving

Psalm 86:5

Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me.

Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water on to the floor.  If not pour it into a saucer or rag.)  This rag is wet and it will be wet for a long time; but it will dry.  If I slap Sam in the face, will it hurt?  Yes.  I can’t instantly make this rag dry again.  If I hit Sam, I can‘t take it back ever.  Folks, we find ourselves in a mess.  Because we sin and we can’t take the bad things back.  We can’t make the rag dry instantly.  And we cannot make the slap not hurt.  But there is one thing we have.  We can get God’s forgiveness when we sin.

               Have a member read Psalm 86:5.

I.     Tell the story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel 11 and 2 Samuel 12.

1.  David slept with Bathsheba; then he killed her husband.

2.  God told David that he was a sinner.

II.     David asked God to forgive him.

A. God did forgive David.

1.  God says that David was a man whose heart was like God‘s more than 200 years after this incident.

2.  But David had sinned and even God’s forgiveness did not take away the results of those sins.

B.  David‘s little son died and many other bad things happened to David’s family after that.

III.     God forgives but he does not always take away the bad effects of those sins.  –ex There was a woman who became a Christian after she had killed someone.  She was sentenced to death.  Even though she was a Christian, she still had to die.

Conclusion–God forgives everyone who asks for forgiveness.

God is Forgiving

Lord, you are kind and forgiving and have great love for those who call to you (Psalm 86:5).

Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me.

Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water on to the floor.  If not pour it into a saucer or rag.)  This rag is wet and it will be wet for a long time.  If I slap Sam in the face, will it hurt?  Yes.  I can’t instantly make this rag dry again.  If I hit Sam, I can‘t take it back.  Folks, we find ourselves in a mess.  Because we sin and we can’t take the bad things back.  We can’t make the rag dry or the slap not hurt.  But there is one thing we have.  We can get God’s forgiveness when we sin. Have a member read Psalm 86:5.

I.     Tell the story of David and Bathsheba

1.  David slept with Bathsheba; then he killed her husband.

2.  God told David that he was a sinner.

II.     David asked God to forgive him.

A. God did forgive David.

1.  Many years later, God says that David was a man whose heart was like God‘s.

2.  But David had sinned and even God’s forgiveness did not take away the results of those sins.

B.  David‘s little son died and many other bad things happened to his family after that.

III.     God forgives but he does not always take away the bad effects of those sins.  –ex a woman who became a Christian after she had killed someone.  She still had to die for her crime.

Conclusion–God forgives everyone who asks for forgiveness.

This morning I got up to write as I normally do; but I couldn’t find anything hot to drink. (A hot drink is necessary for early morning writing sessions.) I’m staying with my wonderful granddaughter a few days.  She and her parents are moving.  Therefore, everything in the kitchen has been relocated or put away getting their home ready for resale.  I spent about 45 minutes trying to locate something hot to drink.  After finding the tea, I tried to find a comfy place to sit.  All their little nooks and crannies were deemed clutter.  Therefore, there is only a couch in the living room.

Before starting to write, I settled in to edit the last blog entry.  One of the wonderful things about writing on the Internet is that new edits are always allowed, even encouraged.  Once a book is published in paperback, there is no hope that you can change, correct or improve the thesis until the next edition is printed.  Yet, the Internet is much more forgiving.  If you know the password, you can always rewrite.

We often warn each other as Christians that once the present becomes the past, there is no changing what has been.  Of course, that is true.  Past hurts still string.  A wounded memory remains a tender bruise.  Broken relationships shatter beyond repair.

Yet, the present time has a wonderful ability to edit our lives if we are willing to do the hard work.  Forgiveness and reconciliation coupled with God’s love produce a marvelous effect.  Past hurts can be changed into lessons learned and the benefits can change our lives and the lives of others for generations.

Many years ago, I learned this lesson from my mother.  She had a sister who constantly looked down on everything my mother owned.  For years, we heard how her car was superior.  Her house had more room.  Her yard was a garden, not like mother’s.  Soon after my husband and I moved to Florida,  Mother’s entire family came to visit the two sister in Charleston, SC.  The plans were made to have the big gathering of the family at my parents’s home.  Everything else was happening at my aunt’s home.

The day before the big dinner, my aunt made her announcement.  “We can’t possibly have our dinner at Frances’ house.  There is no way everyone will fit into her tiny yard.  I decided that we must hold the dinner at my house.  After all, I have the large house and the large garden.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’m completely prepared to have the dinner here.  Frances, I won’t take no for an answer.”

My mother blushed but smiled at her sister’s rude insults.  I could tell Mother was hurt because she, too, had been preparing for the family to come to her home for the meal.  But Mother said nothing.

As Mother and I were doing the dishes after a light supper, I began to spill my anger, “Why do you let her do that to you?  She always insults you and you stand by and take.  Why?”

Grabbing a large stack of dished to wash, Mother expertly slipped the plates in to the water.  Then Mother smiled and looked at me, “Honey, when you have been hurt as many times as I have, you learn that it’s not worth the frustration to let insults effect you in a negative way.  My sister is an unkind, unhappy old woman.  I sure don’t want to be like her.”

Mother had learned to let hurts and insults strengthen her, rather than live with the residue of pain.

With God’s love, a wounded memory can become a reflection of what should have happened, not a tender bruise.  In fact, I’ve found that the most hurtful things in my life become such distant memories that I’ve lost the details.  Without their rehearsal in my mind and repeating details with my mouth, the shock and awe disappears.  Then, healing and forgetfulness replace the trauma.

I believe that broken relationship cannot be ever be repaired.  Nevertheless, with forgiveness, rather than living with a broken relationship, now a more wholesome one can be built.  Years ago, I hurt a dear friend with an unkind remark.  She was going through a hard time and I added to the wound.  Because of my insensitivity, I knew that our relationship was shattered.  There would be no repairing it.  Relationships are like expensive glassware.  When carelessly dropped on a hard surface, glass doesn’t break.  It shatters, into tiny pieces that defy repair.

But forgiveness is an amazing quality, I found.  It is true that my relationship was shattered beyond repair; yet she loved me enough to begin to build a new relationship built on forgiveness.  After a few years, trust was regained; but our friendship was not restored.  It was replaced by a new, less fragile but more tender love.  She made that happen for us.  I was much too embarrassed and afraid of hurting her again to pursue her with vigor.  It was as though my friend sensed my fear and her love rushed in to replace–rather than repair.

The Lord is such a redemptive savior that even the past can be edited through his gracious love.  Has there be a hurt that keeps festering?  What can you learn from that experience?  Is there a past wound that doesn’t want to heal?  While God doesn’t give us the ability to forget, remember time does bring forgetfulness, if we refuse to rehearse the event.  Is there a shattered friendship you have been able to replace with a new more sturdy relationship?

It is inevitable that conflict will come when two people live, work, play or worship together.  An extremely quotable pastor from years past, Jack Green, once said, “If two people live together, there will be conflict, unless one of the two people is dead.”

I’ve always assumed that if there is a conflict between two people at least one of those people is angry.  That does not mean, of course, that one of the two people is sinning.  The Bible clearly says, “Be angry and sin not.”  This makes it pretty clear that you can be angry and not sin.

I am area director of Special Gathering of Indian River, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. Our mission is to do classic ministry, evangelizing and discipling the people we serve.  Like every other pastor who ministers to a particular group, we deliberately tackle issues that are relevant to our members.  We talk about the sheltered workshop and having a job on the outside.  We try to deal with the issue of having to live with your parents FOREVER.  Proper behavior with your girl/boyfriend is a scorching hot topic.  Yet, I’ve never squarely faced with our members the issue of siblings–until last week.

Our sermon was on Jacob and Esau.  We are all familiar with the bitter rivalry that these men faced, even in the womb.  Both mother and father were guilty of fostering these battles, which eventually led to resentments.  This week in our sermon I explained to our members that their brothers and sisters have given up a lot for them.  Because many of them were sick as children and they always have had special needs, their siblings lives were different from others.  I urged them to say thank you to their brothers or sisters for helping them and for being kind to them.

I was surprised because one especially sensitive young woman, Michal, spoke up and said, “I don’t have to, my sister loves me.”  While I don’t often welcome interruptions during our devotion time, I was happy for this one.  As she spoke several of our members vocally agreed with her.  Obviously, I’d not made my point clearly.

“No!”  I tried to clarify.  “I’m not saying that they resent you so you need to say thank you.  I’m saying they have given up a lot for you, and for that reason you need to say thank you. Recently, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “You are so involved with what you don’t have that you don’t appreciate what you do have.”

It is true that our members are discriminated against almost everywhere.  But in their homes, they often receive preferential treatment.  Siblings see it.  They may even be angry but it’s been my experience that few of them sin.  They embrace their disabled partner in family life and move on, helping where they can.  Siblings deserve a big thank you for their love, understanding, and caring.

Is there someone in your life that you need to thank?  Perhaps your husband or wife who does so many little things to please you?  What about one of your members who is careful to help you each time you meet?

Next Page »