FORGIVENESS – Being Set Free!


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

Our objective is being set free from the clutches of Sin and the terribleness of unforgiveness.  I have dealt with people bound by this terrible taskmaster and they frequently argue, “I really haven’t done anything wrong.  It is unfair.  Do you know what the have done to me?”  Basically, it is “I Am A Victim!”  It is will often become a demonstration of Self-Pity Syndrome.  If that exists in any area of your life it must be eradicated now!

The crux of the matter is whether or not we receive and internalize what has been done to us.  Tragically too often we own it.  The devil delivers the package to our front door and we can either sign for it or reject it.  The choice is ours.  That is probably overly simplistic, but it is true. 

Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Do you understand what He was saying and doing?  He separated the sinner from the sin.  He was saying, “I see that the devil is using them in this.”  In 2 Corinthians 10 we find the powerful truth that this is War but not a war with flesh and blood, it is spiritual.  Therefore, I do not have to take offense, I can separate the sin from the sinner and Forgive!

Self-Pity says, “They are doing this to me. I am going to blame everyone but myself.  I am the victim.”  It is vicious and deadly.  I’ve tried to pray with and for people who were wallowing in ‘self-pity’ and it was an exercise in futility.  When I tried to console them, they just dug a little deeper into their mire.  The matter grew bigger and bigger and they could not shake their sense of being the victim.

Let me offer this warning – Do not focus on Fairness!  God never said that life would be fair.  That is one of the lies and schemes of the devil and believe me it is impossible and deadly to attempt to engage in a non-aggression pact with the devil.  He will sift you like wheat.  You cannot do that and fight this spiritual war at the same time. 

According to 1 John 2:1, the standard is “not to sin.”  But if we fail and sin, there is provision.  However, our objective and goal must be to “not sin.”  Let me suggest that you meditate on the following realities in 1 John 1, it is enlightening and can be liberating.  1:6 – “if”.  1:7 – “But, if”.  1:8 – “if”. 1:9 – “if”. 1:10 – “if”.  Carefully consider what the ‘if’ means and is instructing in each of those verses.  The objective is “not to sin.”

The Bible teaches the incredible need and benefit of Fellowship (Koinonia) which means – “Community, joining together, fitting together, linking bone to bone.”  It is to become one through with Christ and with each other as the Body of Christ.  If my hand offends my foot, I do not cut off the hand, but they must work together as one body.  Hebrews 10:25 instructs, “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.”  Why?  Because we need it.  No, because it is vital for the life of the body.

I am not talking about meeting but assembling together.  I am talking about all the parts being linked together in the right place and in the right relationship.  I am talking about linking in function and purposes where the Body builds itself up in love.  We are God’s Spiritual House, Christ’s Body, a Community, and the Family of God!

I have upset religious people by saying, “I do not go to church, I am the church.”  They think I mean I do not attend meetings, but I continue, “I go to meetings, but the meeting is not the church, we are the church, the Body of Christ.”

Tragically our ‘fear of exposure’ keeps us from being assembled in the biblically prescribed manner.  To truly be assembled requires a significant amount of transparency and inter-dependency.  Unfortunately, too often we listen to the lie of the devil and run away and wear our masks.  The devil seeks to isolate and separate us, but God wants to link us to each other as one. 

I want to discuss “releasing the hidden things” that shame produces we can be free like we have never been free in our lives.  We will dig into that goldmine in the next session, but for now, we will pause.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

FORGIVENESS…


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

It is more than a little needful for everyone to read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full context and understanding of what we are going to discuss. We only listed the last verse for the sake of space but urge everyone to read the entire paragraph.

It is vital that believers learn the ‘schemes’ of the devil to enable us to defeat him and set free those who have been held captive by his deception.  Part of that process is learning more about Forgiveness and the lack thereof.  This is an area in which, I have witnessed satanic strongholds developed in lives.  The devil operates in this area legally as a result of our failure to forgive or understand what true forgiveness involves. 

Jesus identified how important Forgiveness is in numerous passages.  In Matthew 6:12 we are told that we are forgiven (as) we forgive.  In verse 14 we are informed that (if) we forgive others, the Father will forgive us.  In Matthew 18:21 we discover the unlimited requirement to forgive.  In verse 35 we realize that the forgiveness being given us is directly connected to our forgiving others.  In Mark 11:25 we realize that Forgiving others is the key to God’s forgiveness and our prayers being answered.  In Luke 6:37 we can apply this rule and principle of Life – We Reap What We Sow.

The Law of Retribution flows to its inevitable conclusion UNLESS forgiveness is effected in the heart as we read in James 1:13-15.  The matter of anger is an example.  Anger is a stimulus.  It engenders a response and each response becomes a stimulus to the other parties.  Each response demands a response that becomes a stimulus that produces a response that stimulates another response.  It is a vicious cycle.  Arguments incite fights.  Group hassles become riots.  National tensions become wars.  Those truths are incorporated in the words of James 4:1-2.  I suggest that this is the Law of Stimulus and Response; Sowing and Reaping; Retribution.  That’s how powerful Forgiveness or failing to Forgive is in our lives and in our world.

Let me nip something in the bud at the outset.  Will Power and suppressing responses only delays the inevitable, they do not correct the problem.  The Cross is the only real answer.  Our problem is that something has blinded our minds and obscured the Cross creating a situation in which we are ‘held captive, bound, bent’ for destruction UNLESS there is divine help.  It does involve our wills, but it is not simply a matter of Will Power. 

Have you considered the reality that we would not have a problem with Forgiveness if it were not for the Problem of Sin?  Too often, we excuse and justify our sin saying: “I’m only human.  I’m not perfect.”  That is the truth, but it can never be a justification for sin.  God will never accept that flimsy attempt to justify ourselves.  He wants the heart and will accept nothing less.

God’s standard and the plan are for us to be transformed and become new creations with new hearts so that we do not sin.  Before someone argues, “But we do sin and we can’t help it.”  I suggest that taking that view is to guarantee that we will never become what God says we are and can be.  With God, all things are possible including our sanctification.

It is wonderful that Jesus always meets us where we are not where we think we are supposed to be in order to receive His mercy.  He takes us where we are and elevates us to a higher place spiritually. It is a process.  In Luke 6:40 we read, “A student is not above his teacher, but when he is trained, he becomes just like his teacher.”  Also, in 1 John 4:17 we are reminded that “As He is, so are we in this world.”  Not in the world to come but NOW!

I suggest that we become what we behold and what we worship.  If you want to study that reality mediated on Psalms 115-135.  We should never make excuses and accept sin as an inescapable prospect in our daily lives.  When we do, we place a roadblock in the path of repentance.  We must focus on the Root Cause and receive the promise of Jude 24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” and the encouragement of 1 John 2:6, “…He who abides in Him ought to walk as He walks.”

My interest is for us to be FREE!  The Truth will enable us to enter into true freedom in Christ and that is my objective.  Therefore, in the next few devotionals, we will focus on Forgiveness and hope that we can mine sufficient truth to bring us to a new level of liberty and freedom in Christ.

God bless you and we will continue this in the next meeting!  Have a fantastic day!

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD WE BE? – Part Two…


2 Peter 3:11 – “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” NASB

Previously we considered the reality that we should be a Regenerated People and today we will consider some other types of people that we should be as believers. 

WE SHOULD BE PRAYING PEOPLE.

I believe that prayer is natural for the believer and as natural and needed as breathing.  It is our source of strength and a key in our understanding and guidance from the Spirit of God.  But what is prayer?  In the simplest definition, it is “communication with God.”  It could be stated that prayer is the “spoken or unspoken desires of the heart.”  It is an expression of wants, needs, desires, requests, and inquires uttered to God. 

The Bible gives us some beautiful examples of praying people that we would do well to pattern our lives after.  In the Old Testament, we have Abraham, the friend of God and his petition to God regarding Lot and Sodom is powerful.  There is David, the man God said was a man after His own heart.  David declared his view of communion and communication with God in Psalms 55:17 – “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.” 

In the New Testament, the prime example is Jesus and He was so powerful and persistent in prayer that the disciples requested that He teach them to pray.  That request would never have been made had there not been visible evidence of the effectiveness and power of His praying.  We are told in Mark 1:35 that Jesus frequently would rise before the sun came up and pray and in Luke 6:12 we discover that there were times He would spend the entire night in prayer.  He was and is our chief example and pattern for how to live and how to pray.

There are those in more modern times such as David Brainard and the man called Praying John Hyde.  Incredible things were wrought by those who will expend the effort and energy coupled with faith to engage God in the ministry of prayer.  Therefore, we ought to be a Praying People.

WE SHOULD BE A PEOPLE WHO STUDY THE WORD OF GOD.

Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 

It is vital for the believer to search the Scriptures for Truth.  Truth that is not understood or received by the natural mind.  1 Corinthians 2:14 – “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  The Word of God is spiritual food and man cannot live by natural food alone as Jesus declared in Matthew 4:4.

The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit as we read in Hebrews 4:12 and is incredibly powerful and purposeful.  It is a sword to be used against the devil and with that sword we can send the enemy packing and pull-down strongholds.  Jesus used it effectively and gave us a pattern for dealing with the devil through the Word of God.

Therefore, we should be Regenerated, People of Prayer, and those who Study the Word of God.  This world is rapidly moving to the final hour of judgment.  Judgment, the Bible tells us, will begin first at the House of God.  Considering prophecy and world conditions, taking note of history it is incredibly dangerous to delay getting right with God.

Delay in getting right with God is an invitation to destruction.  We have an account that must be settled. Jesus paid our debt, but for us to receive the benefit we must Repent and Receive His Grace.  So, I ask, What Kind of Person are You?  Are you what God desires and what He says you are?  If not, why not?  Now is the time.  His promise is, if we will call upon Him, He will hear and answer our cries.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day, He has given us!

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD WE BE?


2 Peter 3:11 – “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” NASB

It would be beneficial to read 2 Peter 3:1-18 in the Amplified in considering this question.  Peter was writing to believers, the people of God.  Believers were being tempted to turn back to the world and revert to their old way of living and believing.  He makes the impassioned plea for them to stir up their sincere minds and remember the predictions of the prophets of God and the commandments of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Peter asked them to pay careful attention to the existence of the scoffers and mockers that were in their midst and would be prevalent in the Last Days.  These would be carnal self-willed people who reject the truth and follow passion rather than purity.  These would be those who question the things of God, the message of the Cross, and the messengers of God.  This would be those who willfully deny that God created everything and assume that God’s delay is evidence that there will be no judgment.  They are those who lose sight of the reality that God is longsuffering and extraordinarily patient and merciful toward man.  The delay in His coming is directly connected to His great desire that all be saved and that none be lost.

Peter urged them to remember the prophecies of Scripture and the predictions that Jesus would come quickly.  Everything we now see will one day all become ashes and only those treasures stored up in heaven will endure.  In the light of all that, Peter urged them, and us, to examine ourselves and ask ourselves, “What are we and why are we what we are?”

The Greek for “what manner of persons” literally means “of what country.” This amplifies the truth that God’s people are citizens of the commonwealth of Heaven, not just the earth.  The word ‘to be’ is emphatic denoting continuous actions.  Simply, what kind of people should we continually be? 

WE SHOULD BE A REGENERATED PEOPLE.

In that state of regeneration, we should indulge in serious self-examination.  It is important that we determine if we are in the faith and of the faith, born again.  We do not know by experience and ritual alone.  John 3:5-7 – “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” 

Nicodemus was a ruler in Israel.  He had years of experience.  He could quote long passages of scripture from the Old Testament.  He was faithful in attendance to the synagogue and would be considered a religious man in any generation.  However, he was religious but lost.  Too many have been deceived into thinking that because they joined the church and attend regularly following a semblance of moral behavior, they are okay and qualified for heaven.  Jesus expressed the need to be ‘born again.’

There should be no doubt in the heart as to our relationship with God.  Paul addresses this in Roman 8:16 – “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”  John gives assurance in 1 John 3:14 – “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren…”   And in 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 

The Scripture teaches us that repentance is required, confession is required, and forsaking our sin is required.  He has promised that if we will come to Him in true repentance, He will receive us and not cast us aside.  Therefore, we ought to be a Regenerant People.

I want to address this a bit further and we will do so in the next devotional.  God bless you and may the richest and best of His blessings be yours today! 

Have a Great Day!

FAITH WITH WORKS – WORKS…


James 2:17-26 – “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”  NASB

The belief that a certain type of medicine will cure disease does not bring about the cure.  The medicine must be administered for the benefit to occur.  Believing that a certain type of weapon will win a war does not bring about the victory.  The weapon must be acquired and utilized for the victory to be realized.  The belief that God desires for His children to prosper and win souls does not fill the bank accounts or the altars.  Actions are required and the implementation of His principles for those things to become a reality.  Faith with works – works!

The biblical account of Caleb in Joshua 14 is a beautiful illustration of faith with works that worked.  There was something he wanted, and he declared, “therefore, give me this mountain.”  He had worked to reach the place of the promise.  He had waited for the day of the fulfillment.  Now, he was ready to possess the promise of God made years earlier. 

He had the promise in his heart and believed the promise. Now he was ready to act upon his faith.  “And Moses swore on that day, saying…”  Caleb was declaring that as far as he was concerned the promise was the assurance of reality.  He considered this a promise of God, not just a declaration of Moses the man of God.

He had determination and confidence.  He wanted what had been promised and he believed was rightfully his.  He was confident that having followed God fully and walked in obedience that God would keep His promise.  He believed that although the promise had been made 45 years earlier and now, he was 85 years old, he could still do what was needed to see the fulfillment in his life. 

The powerful declaration in 2 Chronicles 20:20 is relevant and applicable.  “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe His prophets, so shall you prosper.”  The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 11:6 that, “without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

If we expect to accomplish anything for God and through God, it is mandatory that we not only believe what He has said, but that we do what He has instructed. Caleb’s actions provide an excellent pattern to follow.  There must be an objective.  We must have a promise and provision for that object from the Lord and confirmed in the Word.  We must have determination and confidence. Then we must act upon the Promise and allow our Faith to Work through Works!

Someone said, “God’s Promise plus man’s actions equals God’s miraculous supply.”  The question is, what do you want to accomplish for the Lord?  What is the scriptural basis and validation of that desire?  Do you believe it?  Now, go for it and put your faith into action through application.   Faith with Works – Works!

God bless you as you enjoy the day He has prepared!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU? – Part Two…


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Last time we looked at the folly of being Unconcerned about the eternal.  Today we want to consider another type of person as we seek an answer to the title question.

THE UNCERTAIN.

I have encountered a number of people who are terribly uncertain about their spiritual condition and their eternity.  They are like the rich young ruler described in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.  He ran up to our LORD and asked the powerful question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

There are those who do not know the way to God.  They hope but are not sure and live in torment and turmoil Uncertain.  The apostle John offered hope in 1 John 2:3 – “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”  Jesus addressed this in John 14:15 telling those hearing, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” 

To the Uncertain, we say:  You can know about your eternity and settle the question today.  God’s Plan of Salvation is for ‘whosoever will’ according to John 3:16 and numerous other passages.  The pathway to Life is in repentance.  We confess our sins and the Bible declares that He is faithful and just to forgive our unrighteousness.    Therefore, we do not have to live Uncertainly but can live with Assurance.

THE UNAFRAID.

The apostle Paul boldly declared his confidence and the banishment of fear in his life in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “…for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”  He had what could be called a ‘know-so-salvation.’

The Bible gives clear direction on how to be Saved.  The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads us to the Light of God’s Mercy and Grace.  The Blood of Jesus has been shed so that we could have life and that life could be abundant and eternal.  I love how Paul addressed it in 1 Corinthians 15:54 – “…Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

It is important that each of us keep in the forefront of our minds the reality that there may not be a tomorrow for us.  Today may be the last day that we live on this earth, but we can have the calm assurance in our souls and have confidence in the Savior whom we have surrendered our lives.

We have an anchor that holds no matter the storms of life and that anchor is Jesus!  We have the promise of Heaven and have the assurance of our LORD in John 14:1-4 – “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”

So, we ask as the title question, “Which Describes You?”  Are you Unconcerned, Uncertain, or Unafraid?  The Promise of Jesus is that all that come to Him He will receive and not cast out.  Take advantage of the opportunity and turn your life over to Jesus today! 

God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Him!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU?


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Few people enjoy talking about death.  The subject is a morbid one for most people and most prefer to leave it undiscussed.  It is not the normal dinner table topic of conversation.  It is not a party staple where people enjoy discussing the matter.  There are a significant number of people who fear death, and by not talking about it fare better in day to day living. 

Here the writer brings us face to face with the sobering reality that life, for all of us, is at best, temporary.  In the Book of Job, we read, “Man that is born of woman is of few days…”  (14:1).  The reality is that death is not a respecter of persons and comes to one and all.  It is a sobering reality that all of us will die.  All of us die, it is just a matter of when, where, and how.  Because of that fact we need to investigate the future, beyond this life, beyond the grave and into the face of eternity.  We can face eternity in one of the following ways:

UNCONCERNED.

There are those who do not care.  There are those who believe that they have plenty of time to make things right with God, so they procrastinate and live as they live.  There are those that believe that a loving God would not send anyone to hell, therefore it is unimportant how they live.  There are those who believe that this is it, there is no life after death and what we have in this life is all there is.  There are those who believe eternity is not eternal so there is no need to be concerned.  There are others who believe that they are as good as the next person, so no reason to be concerned. 

The folly of the Unconcerned is amplified in James 4:14 – “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  This thing we call life is too brief to spend addressing matters of earth and neglecting the eternal.  A clear illustration in Luke 12, the rich man and his barns.  In verse 20 Jesus brings the need to address the eternal home powerfully as He illustrates that the rich man’s life ended abruptly.

The Fruit of the Unconcerned is expressed in Proverbs 29:1 – “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  Living unconcerned and failing to address the needs of the eternal is to assure one’s eternal doom. 

Therefore, to the Unconcerned, we say: Prove to me the surety of more time.  Prove to me the fallacy of an Eternal Heaven and Hell.  Prove to me that no God exists and there is nothing beyond the grave.  If you can do that, then we can join you in being unconcerned but if we are wrong about the existence of God, the brevity of time, and the existence of a literal heaven and hell and there is nothing beyond the grave, we have lost nothing in living as we do.  However, if we are right and you are wrong, there is a heaven and a hell, there is a God, time for man on earth is short, and there is life beyond the grave, you have lost everything. 

Are you willing to risk eternity?  There is too much at stake to be unconcerned about the eternal.  Therefore, I urge anyone that is unconcerned to reevaluate their position and consider what is potentially at stake.  Jesus awaits you now, call upon Him.

We will consider the next person in another devotional but for now, we will pause and say, God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!