This is a tough one for most of us. The core of this past week’s sermon focused on Matthew 18:23-35 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven [a]may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him [b]ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he [c]did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the [d]debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred [e]denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling [f]and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from [g]your heart.”
If there were an Erica’s version of the bible it would be summed up like this “Forgive because you were forgiven and you would not ever want your sins to be called against you again.” I am one of those folks who has tens upon tens of thousands talents forgiven to me. No one on this earth will ever grieve me as much as I have grieved my Creator. Who am I to withhold forgiveness?
Still not convinced? Jesus taught us to forgive others,9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ Matt 6:9-13
Bottom line is you DO NOT forgive for the other person. You forgive that person to get it off of you. It begins the healing process. The other person doesn’t even have to be sorry for you to grant them mercy and forgive them.
It isn’t like I haven’t been told before it is unhealthy. I already knew it. I just didn’t care. You see, if something is painful or too difficult for me to deal with I pack it in a “mental box” and tape it up and put it away. I have been doing it for much of my life.
I have many, many boxes of things that I just haven’t ever emotionally dealt with. I was either not properly equipped at the time or just didn’t want to deal with the emotions. I know from talking with other women, even sisters-in-Christ, I am not the only one who does this.
Well, God has this way… yesterday I quite literally walked straight into one of my most painful boxes. I ran into my ex-husband who was extremely abusive to me any and every way you can possibly imagine. My box was torn to shreds in an instant. All of the past fears and insecurities and pain were loose and I could not contain it. Why am I telling you this, you may ask?
Well, because I do not believe in coincidence. I am participating in the Ladies Bible study, which is on the book of James and on mercy. I can honestly say I forgave my ex-husband years ago for the abuse, but forgiving him obviously was not dealing with the emotional garbage that goes along with it all. But I have faith in God to help me with what the contents of this box. Beth Moore, the author of this bible study, said in our session last night. “Healing comes from studying the word. “ I will keep you posted on my healing as God works His wonders in my life!
God has me right where I need to be at the right time to deal with this garbage. Thank You, God for Your Sovereignty!
Last night I was trying to help someone through their anger at another person. The advice I gave her was to pray for the person you are angry at. Now, I know this doesn’t make any logical sense. But it does work, first it causes you to stop sinning, (anger is a sin), second it helps you not to hold resentment towards the other person. I learned to do this through spending many hours in the prayer with Christ and from being in the same situation numerous times It simply lifts the whole burden off your shoulders. The importance of letting go of the anger and the resentment against others is so that we can more closely feel God’s presence.
The funny thing is that this morning the same thing happened to me, I was angry at someone, “he wronged me, he mis-judged me” it took me about 20 minutes of stewing before I started laughing. How quickly we forget our own advice. I prayed, stopped sinning and instantly felt the burden lifted off my shoulders.
God always gives us an “out” a way to stop feeling crummy. Whether we are feeling angry, a bit depressed, guilty or any other way that we really just don’t want to feel. The good thing is that we can feel better instantly.
Father, please help us to call on you when we feel like we’ve lost our connection to you.
It is easy to look at the world today and wonder where God is. There is war everywhere. Most of the time we can even look within our own family and see conflict and wonder where is God. If not conflict, you see famine, floods, droughts, fires, tsunamis, blizzards, starvation, tornados. If not natural disasters, you see cancer, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, AIDS. If not medical conditions you see psychopaths who commit murder, mutilation, rapes or worse. WHERE IS GOD???
He is here. He is in the flowers that are just starting to bloom, in the sun rays, in the drops of dew. God is everywhere. God’s peace is also everywhere. If and only if you are a child of God. “ Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) Once we receive the Holy Spirit we are infused with the peace of Jesus! How powerful and special is that?? When I look at the world today, I simply have to rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit and in the knowledge that God has a plan. His ways are much greater than anything I could possibly comprehend.
The human sin nature is hostile to holiness. This is why our peace is so easily pushed down or not always felt. It is almost like the more we sin the weaker the Spirit within us gets. But make NO mistake this is absolutely NOT true. “ But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11). This means that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in each of us. We have to pray for forgiveness of our sins and ask God to increase our holiness, increase our peace, and increase the spirit within us. Especially when we feel we are weak.
Heavenly Father, I pray for increase of You in me.
Being obedient to God allows Him to bless us and allows Him to not to punish us. It is the same with parents and children. When your child behaves they get rewarded and not punished. Only it is so much more with God, simply do the act He is asking of you is usually a blessing or produces its own blessing. I cannot tell you how blessed I was by the kind words of others after giving my testimony in church. Some said they could relate to part, some just said thank you for the courage and some said so much more. What a blessing all of their words were. I was simply being obedient. Also, let me make it clear. I was relying very heavily on God’s courage and strength to get me through that whole testimony. The blessings I have received out of sharing that have truly been too many to number!
I recently had an opportunity to talk with my step-daughter. I should tell you a bit about her. She is 25, exceptionally bright and was not raised in church. She was 22 when her parents divorced. Now, I was cooking and she was watching and we were just having light conversation. When I asked her, “Do you believe in God?” I could tell she wasn’t comfortable, but she answered that she did believed in a higher power that was in control and created all things. I am thinking “ok, at least we don’t have to deal with any wrong theories or any non-belief!” I asked her (guided by the Holy Spirit!) “Do you know why Jesus came to earth?” She perked up and said “No.” I was so shocked. Here was someone who had never really been told the whole story of Jesus. So, I proceeded to tell her the story. She listened! It was a moment between us that I will never forget. She did not give her life to Jesus. But I am reminded of something that keeps being said in church. “It is our job to tell them about God. It is His job to save them.” I am ok with that. I also told her that, I had done my job in telling her about Jesus, God will do His part in calling her and she will get to either choose or reject Him. Again, I was being obedient. Seeing her face light up with the understanding of why Jesus came to earth was such a blessing to me.
So, as I close I urge you to simply be obedient. Listen to your Father. He wants to reward (bless) you and not punish you. I have such a Christian love for each of you who take the time to read my blog. Thank you!
Jesus calls us to follow Him. Period. Dot. He never said it would be easy. He did, however say He would give us what we need to do His work. “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21). So, what is our excuse?
It is hard. That is certainly true. We may lose loved ones over our stance for God. Thankfully, we live in a country where we don’t go to jail or die for our belief in God. These are the extremes. What about the little things that just makes us uncomfortable? Talking to our neighbor about God? Saying grace openly in a public restaurant? Wearing a “God” t-shirt in public? Inviting a total stranger to church? I believe that all of these things are a part of following Jesus. Making public statements and proclamations of my faith is something I have struggled with. So, I simply started with saying “have a blessed day” when I leave a store. I was amazed at how much I was blessed by that small gesture.
Because of the fact that sometimes what Jesus calls us to do is hard, Christians have developed “the middle road” somewhere between the narrow way (which walks with Christ and follow His commands and His callings) and the wide path which leads away from God. This middle road has just enough Jesus in it to be called Christian but it so filled with secular things that it keeps us from all of our blessings that God has for us.
Whomever God calls to do His work He will equip them!! To share God’s love with the world is our responsibility. To save them and the world is God’s responsibility. All we have to do is trust God’s calling and do His work. He WILL equip us.
The Holy Spirit recently convicted me to share my testimony with someone specific. Now, without getting into all of the specifics let me just say I have made many, many bad decisions in my life. Before Christ worked on me I was so very ashamed of the choices in my life. Someone told me that if God could forgive me of all of my sins then I could forgive myself for my sins. Once I forgave myself of my sins all of the shame of the bad choices went away. While I was getting ready to tell my story, I started looking back over my life and was once again amazed at the times that Jesus carried me. Jeremy Riddle sings a song called “Sweetly Broken” I see so many times when I was broken and it was after those times that I experienced the most growth. God uses our broken hearts and our bad decisions and our bad circumstances for His glory. If – and only if – we allow Him to. I’ve included the lyrics to “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle below. Hopefully, the words will speak to you as much as they have spoken to me.
To the cross I look, to the cross I cling Of its suffering I do drink Of its work I do sing For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed Showed that God is love And God is just Chorus: At the cross You beckon me You draw me gently to my knees, and I am Lost for words, so lost in love, I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered What a priceless gift, undeserved life Have I been given Through Christ crucified You’ve called me out of death You’ve called me into life And I was under Your wrath Now through the cross I’m reconciled Chorus: In awe of the cross I must confess How wondrous Your redeeming love and How great is Your faithfulness — Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/sweetly-broken-lyrics-jeremy-riddle.html#cuKUtKSe8sdUAx0Y.99