Forgiven

“If You, Lord , should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.” Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 NASB

This reminds me of this phrase: Because I say I am a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect (far from it!); it just means I am forgiven.

There’s a song the Newsboys sang called You Are My King, and this is the beginning verse.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily left heaven and accepted living as a human, and then died as our sacrifice for our sins, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily hung on that cross, forsaken and condemned, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t conquered death and hell, and walked away from the tomb, where would we be today?

It is because of His sacrifice that we live.

Have you accepted that? Because of Jesus, all of my sins are forgotten! Without Jesus, there would be no peace in my life. I pray that you find that peace today!

Stand Firm

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 1:15 NASB

Do you feel like a prisoner? Sometimes, since we’ve been in this pandemic, I feel as though I’m under house arrest. Honestly. I get 2 or 3 days a week to go to my job for a few hours, and I’ve gone to the drug store to pick up prescriptions twice since this began. Twice, I’ve gone to a big box store for a couple of items, and once to a grocery store for basics. In some ways, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m an introvert, so not being “allowed” to be surrounded by people is wonderful….. but to be told that I can’t go if I choose to….. that’s different!

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

I confess to having some real hard feelings towards some of those in government, especially the ones who sit in their huge houses purchased with our money, refusing to return to work, as millions of Americans aren’t allowed to work and support their families. Then I read this verse from Matthew, where Jesus tells the parable of the slave who was forgiven his debt to his master, but refused to forgive the debt a fellow slave owed to him:

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 NASB

I need to stand firm in the knowledge that GOD is in control of this mess. Instead of anger and disgust (or maybe fueled by them), I need to be lifting up these people in prayer. When I raise my head and my hands to the One Who created the world, I find the freedom the LORD wants me to have. When I turn my head away from Him, thos negative feelings rush back into my heart and my head.

Thy will be done, LORD. You alone can Stand Firm and hold us up. Thank You for Your Mercy and Grace upon me, a sinner of the worst kind. I believe that You are a GOD of the Highest kind; in fact, You alone are GOD.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13‭-‬14 NASB

Moral Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

Strive for moral excellence, knowledge of our Saviour, self control, perseverance. Live one day at a time; just for today – do the next right thing. Surround yourself with encouragers. Refuse to quit or give up on what God has called us to do with our life. Live with godliness – literally God likeness; becoming like God/ Christ. Emulate Christ, spend time with Him. Our attitude towards people shows our heart. We should be the kind of person who prays for each other, forgives each other, and is generous to others. Over all, we show love: it is our capstone; our crowning glory when we sacrifice of ourselves for the higher good. As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others.

“Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus” – Adoniram Judson, missionary to India.

“For it is because of these things that the Wrath of GOD will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:6‭-‬10 NASB

I need to watch my mouth. I may not be cursing or using expletives, but I can do a lot of damage to my witness with my words. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t be a Negative Nancy”? (Yes, I know it’s my name, but it was around before I was!) I’ve been around a few “Negative Nancy’s”, and they can spoil an entire day with their attitude. As Christians, I think it’s important that we keep positive things coming out of our mouths. I need to pay more attention to what I’m saying.

Forgive Me

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

Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

To quote Corrie ten Boom, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

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

And the best of all, the most important of all, is what JESUS, Son of the Living God, told us: “….. and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” – Matthew 6:12 NLT

Listen to the song Forgiveness as sung by Matthew West.

Scariest Words

What are the scariest words you have ever heard? You’re fired? You’re hired? Marry me? …… We’re pregnant? Your loved one is dying?

All of those words have definite impact on our lives, but I don’t think they are the scariest you’ll ever hear. Knowing just how flawed and imperfect we are as humans, try these:

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He Who said, “do not commit adultery,” also said, “do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the Law of Liberty.” – JAMES 2:8‭-‬12 NASB

No matter how good we are, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws. ALL of them. Ever told a “white” lie? Took a paperclip that really didn’t belong to you? Shared a bit of “harmless” gossip? “Admired” someone of the opposite sex just a tad too long? Became angry or took offense at some slight? By stumbling on one point of the Law, we become guilty of breaking it all.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: “According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God’s restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.” (Emphasis mine)

According to my understanding, the Law of Liberty is the Gospel. Through the Mercy shown to us in and through Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness…… but we must accept that Mercy, that Gift, in order to receive His forgiveness, and to be freed from the final judgement of the LORD. I don’t want to be seen as a “good” person! I want people to see – and know – that I am forgiven; and how I am forgiven. That’s why we must share the Gospel. “Good” can never be good enough; only forgiveness will suffice in the end.

Are you good, or are you forgiven?

This Is Timely….

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” – JAMES 4:11‭-‬12 NASB

I don’t think James was speaking about man’s laws here, but God’s. There isn’t a person on earth who can say they are better than another, because even though our outward lives may appear “better”, God looks at our thoughts over our actions. Our thoughts make us no better than the worst murderer, because who hasn’t murdered someone in their thoughts? Or whose thoughts would reveal that they have desired a man or woman who was not their spouse? Who hasn’t wished for gold and riches, a bigger better house, more clothes and more things? Just because someone looks all clean and prim and proper on the outside, doesn’t mean that inside, they are the same. We have to remember, too, that in God’s eyes, sin is sin. A lie is no better or worse than murder – and everybody has lied.

“You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.” – James 5:5 NLT

So. What to do?

I think that all we can do is to do as Jesus did, and continually pray to the Father, not my will, but Thine. Actually, that’s the best thing we can do! I’m far from perfect, and I count myself among the worst of criminals, but there is one thing I know without a single doubt: I have been forgiven of all my sins, and one day I will see my Saviour! O Glorious Day, one day He is coming! Listen to this hymn, Glorious Day, sung by Casting Crowns.

Do you know that Truth? Can you sing without hesitation that when He returns, He is coming to sweep you up with Him ……. or will you be at the Judgement Seat, wondering what happened?

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

#NOT_Entitled

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” ” – Luke 22:35‭ ( also read v. 36) ESV

“Places in the Heart,” a 1984 movie with Sally Fields, Danny Glover, and John Malcovich was on last night. It was my first time to view it, and I found it to be poignant and moving; a story of suffering, strength, and overcoming. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. Set in 1938 rural Texas, a homeless man and a blind man set out to help a recently widowed Mrs. Spaulding (Sally Fields) save her farm. Moses (Danny Glover) showed up on her doorstep without anything (“no moneybag or knapsack or sandals”) – but he was willing to do whatever needed to be done. The blind man, Will (John Malcovich), had been put out by his well-to-do brother-in-law and had very little with him, yet he was also helping however he could. Mrs. Spaulding’s sister was betrayed by her husband’s infidelity, and Moses was brutally beaten by the Ku Klux Klan (self-professed Christians and deacons of the church in the movie).

Moses, Will, and the sister are great examples of the way we should be reaching out to those in need around us. The last scene in the movie is a church service where the preacher reads 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love passage.”

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭, ‬4‭-‬7 NASB

Although it didn’t excuse the bad behavior of those pious, so-called Christian men against a widow, a black man, a blind man, and a wife, you could see the guilt on their faces; the shame and embarrassment for their actions. They thought they were entitled to their behavior because of the color of their skin and their social status. No matter the skin color, from whitest white to blackest black and every shade in between, discrimination and judgement are far too common among us. Example: I am discriminated against because I am a divorced, radically conservative, Christ-following white woman …… I could join the marches, screaming obscenities (or wearing obscene hats), but I won’t, because to me, it appears that the most vocal, most discriminatory, and most judgemental are the most entitled. (Yes, I’m judging, but look for yourself at the designer clothes, expensive hairdos and manicures, and the cars they drive….. )

As a Christian, a Christ-follower, it is expected of me (of us!) to show the LOVE and the Mercy and the Grace that I (we) have received. Not expected by the world, but expected by our SAVIOUR. I confess, I struggle with it! My faith is tested whenever I know I need to step out of my comfort zones. To literally let go of every material thing, and to embrace what JESUS said …… where is my faith? Letting go – not so much, but holding on? Now, that I’m good at!

Remember the two criminals being crucified with our CHRIST? One was mocking JESUS and rebuking Him, telling Him to save them all from the death they were facing. The other criminal replied to the first with these words – and we are that other criminal: “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” ….. #NOT_entitled, but Forgiven ….. Hear what JESUS said! “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” ( – Luke 23:41‭-‬43 NASB)

Lauren Wells sings “Fully known and Loved by You….. ” Listen!

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ” for Your sake we are being put to death all day long ; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35‭-‬37 NASB

From Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do away that love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of his love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough. All other hazards signify nothing. Alas, poor sinners! though you abound with the possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you say of any of them, Who shall separate us? You may be removed from pleasant dwellings, and friends, and estates. …… the soul that is in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ, and these separations pain him not. Yea, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer’s soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever.

Well said, Mr. Henry. (And nope, not a relation 😉 )

Follower of Christ, Lover of those who don’t know JESUS – the unlovable, picking up my sword to follow Him; deserving the absolute worst and receiving, instead, unmatched, unimaginable Love and an eternity with Him ….. that’s my goal. What’s yours?

Image from:

https://www.heartlight.org/articles/201305/20130527_feetofjesus.html