Tag Archives: forgiveness

How Long Will We Forget His Might? (Reflection for 9/16)

“He has cut down in fierce anger
all the might of Israel,
He has withdrawn from them his right hand
in the face of the enemy; 
He has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, 
consuming all around”

-Lamentations 2:3

ROTD: We must not forget to fear the Lord.

Why?

Another prevailing attitude of the day, among Christians and non alike, is a lack of the fear of the Lord. Going along with our lack of forethought of the consequence of our sin, it appears as though we have set out to deny that God is a God to be feared. We overemphasize His love, mercy, grace, tenderness, forgiveness (ALL of which are good things) but we forget that God is equally a God of wrath, of justice, of righteousness, of holiness, of perfection. This deserves and demands our respect, reverence, and fear.
But what does it mean to fear the Lord?
The best way I have heard it explained is in Eshon Burgundy’s song, “The Fear of The Lord“. He says, pretty simply, that

“To fear the Lord is to stand in awe of the reality of God”

So this means that we don’t necessarily go around quaking, wondering if our next wrong step will earn us a lightning bolt from the Man Upstairs. It means that we recognize and are humbled by the sheer magnitude of who God is.
Have you ever just taken a moment to consider God? Who He is? What He is capable of?
That’s why it is a good thing to fear the Lord. If we make God into someone who is not to be feared, what reason at all have we to listen? If I am more powerful than the God I serve, who does that serve better-God, or me?

When we begin to look at just who God is, what He can do, and compare that to who we are, and what we have done, it should send a little shiver down our spine. It should humble us, as we look at the reality of God and His majesty. Reading these verses in Lamentations, and throughout the Old Testament, God isn’t just some mean old God who kills people, as some would seem to believe. God is perfect, and holy, and sin is simply unacceptable.  This is what the response is to disobedience, and He told them it would be so. Does not a father discipline His child? How much more so, the perfect God of the universe?

Every other religion in the world is man reaching out-either to God, or just self-enlightenment, or to just living-everything else is us trying to do it on our own. God says, “This is what Christianity looks like as a religion”. It’s an impossible task, and we would inevitably fall to our own destruction trying to reach out to God.  So He made a way for us. Thanks be to God that His power is on display in His pursuit of us, and that when we recognize just how mighty our God is, we see that in all of His omnipotence He DESIRES to be with us. He wants us to be with Him, and He has made a way for us to do so through the death of His Son on the cross.

Prayer:

Lord, we recognize that You are holy. You are perfect, and deserving of all the praise and honor and glory. Help me to recognize the reality that is You. Help me to stand in awe of you, help me to fear you properly. Lord, we thank you that we don’t have to strive to try and reach you, but instead while we were yet sinners and rebellious You sent Your Son to make a way for us to join You. Help us to have a reverence and fear of you all of our days, and give us the joy and peace that come in knowing Christ and being known by Him.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

P.S. to find more works by Eshon Burgundy, here is the album in full: http://www.humblebeast.com/the-fear-of-god/. Eshon and other hip-hop artists write God-inspired, deep works through the label HumbleBeast. God bless!

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I Gotta Be Nice to WHO? (Devo, January 20)

 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
-Luke 6:35-36

  Oh no……It’s the in laws.
Specifically, MOTHER.
And you have tried. You have tried and tried and tried but it seems like no matter what, there is always something wrong. ALWAYS. And you know what Jesus says about loving your enemies, but it just seems impossible with this woman! Isn’t there another way to do things? Shes’ just..so easy to not like. It’s easier that way. I still can be civil to her. But LOVE her?

Love your enemies.  It is one of those things you can say, and it sounds good. In reality, however, it is one of the hardest to put into practice. Mercy. We are called to love our enemies, to give even when those receiving don’t appreciate, to forgive and show grace. And it’s hard! Because some people are messed up. Lots of us are. But how do you tell yourself to love your parents who never showed any kindness or care towards you? How do you tell a girl to love her rapist? How do you tell a kid to give something to the bully that took everything from him anyways? In real life, loving our enemies is much harder than it seems.

     But let’s put it in perspective.

     There came a man who preached peace, and repentance, and a new way of living that was so different from everything else that everyone else was trying. He talked about reconciliation, and redemption, a man trying to reunite His family back together.  He presented a new kind of relationship, that didn’t require our work but merely answering His call. And what happened?
His children didn’t hear Him, or want to hear Him. They shouted Him down, they tried to kill Him multiple times, drove Him out of towns and villages. His own people in the town He grew up rejected Him. Those closest to Him fled from Him. He was tried in court and, when they couldn’t really find anything wrong, sentenced Him to death. He was beaten beyond recognition, torn up and bloodied, and nailed alive to a cross to bleed and die. He was abandoned by His own Father, and for moments this man was completely alone in the world.

That man was Jesus. He took on the sins of the entire world so that we might be able to be with Him someday-because He loves us that much. And when we do become followers of Christ, we need to extend that same mercy and love towards all that we meet. Now, I’m not saying that sometimes you can’t stand up for yourself. Even Jesus threw people out of the temple when they were doing wrong. But we all are sinners. We all fall short of God’s glory. He died for us all. And to extend the grace that He extends to you, to another person…that kind of love has a powerful, life changing effect. People don’t understand just how somebody can be so gracious and merciful in a situation that clearly would be reasonable to be upset and bitter and unforgiving in. And that is where the Gospel is presented. Because just like that person may seem undeserving of forgiveness…so are we. But God did it anyway.

So yea. Put up with that annoying coworker. Be loving to that person nobody seems to care about. Try to extend yourself to that stuck-up “popular” kid. Try to forgive the driver who killed your child, try to forgive that family member, that mother, that father, that neighbor, that spouse. It’s not an easy task, and it takes time and prayer and discipline. But the effort is so worth it. Because if the love that Christ loves us with is allowed to go forth, this world will be a much, much better place.

Will you begin to try to really show God’s mercy today?

http://bible.com/59/luk.6.35-36.esv

How To Walk the Narrow Road! Day 3: Take a Shower Daily

Longer Scripture passage today, but it’s all relevant. Trust me.

“Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit  from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you.

-Psalm 51:1-15

What David is talking about here isn’t just a one time deal. If you read the Psalms, David is constantly asking God to forgive him, to save him. to rescue him. David was called a man after God’s own heart. That is an amazing statement within itself! David, the man after God, is asking for forgiveness in a most humble and grieved manner.

I find it interesting that in today’s society we spend a lot more time justifying our own actions rather than just admitting we are wrong and asking for forgiveness. There’s two things at work behind this-the false belief that we are always right, and the stubbornness to admit we are wrong. One of the HARDEST things to do is say “I need help!” This is true in my own life. I’ve had plenty of times where I stubbornly kept on believing the lies that were told to me. Satan had me thinking nobody understood me, that nobody cared, that it was easier to keep the problems inside. I was committed to this. It’s funny-at the same time I so desperately wanted to have someone love me, care for me, care about my hurts. What Satan did was take me away from the Lord and show me other ways I could get the “love” I was looking for. I needed attention and got it in the wrong places. I needed love and got an empty substitute. I needed forgiveness and got a mask. I was not willing to admit I had a problem because I got stuck in the hurt.

Does that make sense?

We are not willing to admit we need help and forgiveness because we get comfortable in the mess we are in. We become okay with struggling. It sounds ridiculous! Who would want to dwell on their past, on their sin, on trying to make it? On “just getting by”? Yet we all do it, day after day. It’s saddening.
The other reason we aren’t willing to accept the forgiveness of God is pride. We have this stupid, somewhat admirable stubborn tenacity to try and hang on to things. I have continuously tried to fix situations I know are not getting better. Why? Because it’s a ME thing. I got into this mess and I can get out of it. I can pull myself up and make something of myself, and then people can praise ME for the things I have done for MYSELF.

We need to make our lives less of a ME thing and more of a GOD thing. 

Like it says in John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Forgiveness starts when we realize we are less and that God is greater. We can’t be forgiven if we think we are all that. Take the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee boasted and thanked the Lord that he wasn’t like that sinner over there. The tax collector just fell on his face and admitted he was wretched, and asked the Lord to forgive him. The Lord has the capacity and the want to forgive all, but He can’t and won’t operate in a heart that won’t allow Him in. Recognizing our wretched sinful state and the fact that we can’t do this alone lets God move in you and heal, rejuvinate, and forgive.

The point of this series, though, is how to develop a intimate relationship with the Lord. So what do I have to do? I can’t just pray a prayer, say some words and BOOM. I’m saved. There is a continual work that needs to occur if my heart is to stay focused on the Lord. So every day, I need to start with asking God to be the center of my day. I need to let Him be my guide instead of myself. And I need to end my day asking God to cleanse me and thanking Him for the day I was able to live for Him. Every day. That’s a hard thing! But when we are able to discipline ourselves to daily ask for His forgiveness and cleansing of our spirits, one will find that they feel much more joy in life. When you have a clean heart, a new mind and spirit, you can’t help BUT to feel joy! And as you persist more and more in letting the Lord cleanse and guide you, the more you will start to recognize His voice and His presence in your life. In my life, just keeping this series I’ve noticed a change over the past few days. I’m not sad anymore. I’ve been coming to God in prayer and reading into different scriptures, and I have noticed my conduct changing as well. Knowing that I’m resting in His eternal grace and being washed by Him each day is such a joyful and comforting thing!!!

In conclusion,
First let us recongize we are sinners. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. ALL. This is a fact of life. We are human and we mess up.
Because of that fact, daily we need to convene with our God and ask Him to prepare us for the day. We need to ask for His continual forgiveness, for that blood to not be poured out just once on our lives but every day over our head. We need to be comfortable asking Him to search our hearts and continually be showing us areas we struggle in-because there will always be areas. It has to become a DAILY CLEANSING. Not just a giant shower of tears every few months when we fall way back into sinful paths. But a Shower of forgiveness and grace and joy every day will keep us close to God and farther and farther from sin!
Tomorrow we will see what it means to not just seek God to be forgiven, but to seek Him. Period.

God bless!

~Michael Wright, Jr.~