The Price of Forgiveness?

18 Oct

Forgiveness is a powerful word. It carries great implications that affect every person regardless of position, money, power or knowledge. Forgiveness at its most powerful was given to us by the blessed Messiah, the Christ, our Lord and Savior. It was He who came down to the earth in the form of a man so that He may embody every pain and every struggle that is possible to experience in the form of humanity. It was there as He walked the earth for 33 years, humbling Himself for us, for the process of imparting the Great Forgiveness that the blood of our precious Savior accomplished by pouring out the very essence of His life for the atonement of all our sins. Sins that had been and were to come, taken up in His frame and broken so that He could make a New Covenant with us, a Covenant that spoke of life, and redemption; liberty from every sin that was known and unknown to man.

So powerful was this precious gift, and yet He asked for NOTHING in return, absolutely nothing. He gave us free choice. That choice being that if we chose to believe in His Sovereignty, His plan for our Salvation, and in doing so we would belong to Him and that meant we were covered by the Sacrifice of the Cross and would no longer be subject to pay for our sins, but would be freed from them, paid in full, no price required from us….ever!!!

My friends, I know that forgiveness is something that most of us deeply struggle with, and I understand that the pain of being hurt makes us want to hold tightly to the grief that the sins of others have brought against us. We may often tell ourselves that there is no way that we can forgive a person for something that has cut us so deeply that we fear we may never recover, and that we can become deceived into believing that by holding onto to that pain… that unforgiveness, that it is somehow keeping  us “safe” from further pain, and maybe even feeling like we can project that pain onto the offender in our resistance to give this grace.

I too, have been trapped…more times than I wish I had to admit. We get caught up in the pain and emotions of words that cut like a knife, broken promises, lies, repeated disappointments, broken friendships, addictions, infidelities in marriage or different kinds of abuses, all the things that shatter trust and leave deep ruts in fields of our hearts. The sins that bear up against the principles of forgiveness are many and strong and if we have entertained unforgiveness, stalling even as we fight the urge to surrender, bitterness is patiently waiting there, looking for her opportunity to render a more powerful destruction against the peace of our souls. She is unforgivenesses “crowning glory” if you will be so generous with me in describing her evil ways, working through unforgiveness to bring about more destruction in our souls than we ever thought possible.

As believers, forgiveness begins to call to us in the midst of our troubles as the Lord desires that we are freed from sin’s grasp, and if we turn away from forgiveness, bitterness is practically imperceivable as it settles into our hearts and our thoughts and our perceptions until what we see becomes so twisted that it catapults us far away from a Godly perspective, and its trap leaves us exhausted, weary and wondering how we will keep going under such a strain when all we want is to just survive the pain!

There is much evil in this world. There is a bend in us, a sin nature in every one of us that we fight against, and despite our best efforts we still sin. Sin is painful. It is painful for us and for those we sin against and those who sin against us. There is no way around its ugliness and we live in a sin sickened world, and that’s why we must always go back to what the scriptures say about how we are to live in submission to the Lord and His goodness for us. In James 1:22 Yeshua asks us to be doers of His word, not just hearers of His word for a very good reason. In the midst of the storm, we can often lose sight that the principle in doing what the Lord commands us to, is meant to set us free from the bondage of sin, not put us into the bondage of it, as we surrender it all to the Lord. Satan is excellent at convincing us that God’s Holy word is upside down when it comes to applying it in our own lives in those times of great testing. Our sin nature digs in to get its own way.

It says in Ephesians 6:12 (CEB) We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.

What does this mean? It means that our enemy, Satan, the ruler of darkness and all his evil doers, are the ones we are supposed to be fighting against, not each other. Yes we sin, and thankfully Christ died for every one of those sins of yours and mine! So should we just fall back and say to ourselves and each other that “we are sinners saved by grace” and continue on as though nothing happened? I do not think so.

Too often Christians are criticized for being hypocrites, and sadly I have witnessed it happening over and over, and I too have been guilty of pointing fingers while I sat stuck in my own sins.  I believe that the difference between being a sinner and being a hypocrite may be in the act of reconciliation. We know that the Lord already overcame sin on the cross, and now in reconciling ourselves to Him, we too must stand against the attacks of our enemy and instead fight to glorify the Lord in our lives and within our relationships with each other as a body of believers. When we sin, we are called to reconcile ourselves to Christ through forgiveness, and then reconcile ourselves with each other, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 “Walking as Children of Light”
…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you

So why are we battling each other? Why do we hold out on forgiveness instead of walking in the grace that the Lord Himself has extended to us while we are still living in a state of our own sinfulness? I see it as a deception of the enemy to keep us bound to him and his ways, to destroy us and our relationships with others.  It speaks about how Satan the thief behaves in John 10:10 (CJB) The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure. (Emphasis added) We can step back in those times of testing, and ask God to show us Satan’s way of stealing our joy, killing our peace and destroying our communion of forgiveness from the Lord and each other. Matthew 6:15 (CEB) But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins. The Lord’s plan is to give us LIFE…Satan’s plan is to bring us into states of brokenness and “death” to as much of our souls as he can.

This enemy of ours does not give any mercyever!!!

I understand that pain is a great motivator in our lives and that it stirs up that desperate desire to survive. I know it is hard to trust that the Lord will take care of us when life is so challenging, and that in surrendering that pain to Him through forgiveness of one another can feel like it is not enough to fill the big black hole it leaves. But He is enough, more than enough, and His Mercy and Grace over our own sinful nature can empower us to do the supernatural. Forgiveness is just that…supernatural, and it goes against the very powers of darkness and it breaks the chains of bondage and it sets the captive free. It is something we can ask our Heavenly Father to work in us as we come to the cross over and over and lay down our burdens before the Master who knows how to work all things out according to our good and His glory.

Romans 8:28 (CEB) We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

If you are a Believer in His gift of Salvation, He has also called you to fulfill His purposes. A life that truly reflects who God is…a lover of imperfect souls, a tender and caring God who is slow to anger and patiently pours out His mercy over us again and again when we least deserve it. His Grace for us is never-ending.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The Father did not require us to be perfect in order to receive His perfect Gift, and in fact allowed us to see how much we needed Him through our own failed attempts at perfection.

Romans 5:20 The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding Grace forgiving us.

May we all come together and love like Christ showed us…forgiving others with the same passion as Christ forgave us and reconciled Himself to us while we were yet sinners.

Would you join me in seeking to walk in paths of righteousness for His names sake? (Psalm 23:3b) Can we stand together and give to each other the very gift that Christ Himself gave to us without penalty?

My prayer for us all:
May we walk with upright hearts Lord, asking Yeshua to find that which is in us that prevents us from walking in the true knowledge of His grace and love that were perfectly poured out over us on the cross so that sin and its darkness would no longer dominate us, but so that the Savior could come and unabashedly love us in such a grand capacity, that upon His forgiveness, our sins are separated from us as far as the East is from the West. May the Messiah be ever lifted upward in our hearts and may we sing His praises all the day long for all the Goodness that is Him and we ask that He will impart His forgiveness in us for others with a generosity far beyond anything we can ask or imagine.

In the precious name of Yeshua I pray,

Amen and Amen

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Reflections

22 Aug

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There are many things that pop into my mind and maybe yours too when we see the word “reflections.” There are different ways in which we can digest the strength of what that word means, either for good or for bad. It’s power lies in the fact that it encompasses something, or some things or maybe even many things that have already gone before us and as we look back to contemplate the caliber of its value, if any, that we can assign to it. These memories may be stored as fragments or maybe even whole thoughts, moments in life already lived and loved, or maybe even just lived and regretted.

I find myself looking in the mirror lately with a little more serious intent and as I see my reflection staring back me, it is to a deeper level that I strain to see. I have noticed that there are different types of mirrors, one that makes you look fabulous while magically hiding all those things we may wish didn’t show themselves so boldly in our countenance, and then there are those other mirrors…you know the ones that you may walk by in another room with different lighting or at the store and it unceremoniously shatters all the “goodness” that you felt earlier about yourself and in that moment it suddenly has the power to make you feel awkwardly uncomfortable and open to the judgements of others.

I find that life is like that with times that are seemingly smooth and without too many worries, and then without warning it turns into a storm and we hope (and hopefully pray) that it won’t be too hard and that the level of pain is somehow kept within bearable parameters. We may even hope in these times, as we reflect inwardly, that it isn’t going to mar us permanently or keep us in that place where we feel so defeated, wishing that God would just send an easy answer already.

So many times I have agonized through these tough places, and I start feeling lost like maybe Yeshua cannot see my heartache and He cannot see my pain and I begin to feel like I must do something to try and gain His ear for my troubles. As I go to the Word, I am reminded of His healing truth in Psalm 10:17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. It has been a slow realization for me as I pass through these tight spots in my life, how hard Satan truly works to bring me into a mindset of failure…one of utter defeat. We are reminded of this in 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Each time I go back to God’s word my soul finds restoration, and the crooked paths of thinking that weigh me down are made straight once again and I find there is less space left in my thoughts when I continually fill my mind with what God says, and so I fight to instill this discipline of reading the Word of God every day. I love the encouragement of Psalm 119:169 May my cry come before you, LORD; give me understanding according to your word.

When we read about Joseph and how his own brothers sold him into slavery because they were jealous of his close relationship with their father, it seems as though any chances of his life being blessed would certainly have been demolished under his circumstances. But God had a good plan as He always does for those who serve Him, and he took Joseph’s “bruises” and turned them into something glorious as Joseph’s life was transformed and he went from being a slave to Pharaoh’s 2nd in command. Despite all of Joseph’s pain, he still receives his brothers back into relationship giving God all the glory He is due. This is what he says in response to his brothers when they are in the process of restoring their relationship with each other, Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good….”

When life gets too dark and complicated to see clearly, we can look at all the stories we each have, and like Joseph, we can encourage each other as we share all the ways that our Messiah transforms our lives, in the little things and in the bigs things and certainly all along the way as He works His perfecting power in our lives. It says it perfectly in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I am in a place right now where I am trying to grasp how God in His great love for us allows us to be sifted, so that His life, and His love and His glory may rest on us and in us in greater and greater ways. In shame I have been wanting to look at my reflection in a mirror that hides all the bruises that come with living this life, and God is showing me how I am missing out on the very purpose of what He brings me through. First, it is always to be brought into the greater likeness of our Messiah, Christ the Lord, and then to be a living testimony, a living reflection of Christ for others to see His continual redemptive power in my life as I learn to keep falling back into those arms that say, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:8.

I think that being bold for the Lord isn’t always about telling someone else what He can do for them, but letting others see the essence of God’s faithfulness in our own lives at their lowest points. It is in those stories that God gets glorified and my brothers and sisters get strengthened.

We are reminded of this in Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Yeshua is the “I can” of our “I cannots.” I hope this encourages us to come together and reflect His glory in our lives to each other, that we as a body of believers are brought into unity and deeper love for one another.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.