Rejoice and Praise With Me

This is the third and final post in a series. The first was Grieve With Me; the second, Repent With Me.

We have sinned. We have confessed our sin and grieved for it. We have repented. What happens next?

We deserve to die (Romans 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God). We have sinned and our just deserts is eternal death: damnation apart from God (Romans 6.23a For the wages of sin is death). (We have never experienced being apart from God, so we cannot imagine such a miserable and terrifying existence.)

Only God can forgive sin (whether we’re talking about the Old Testament or the New Testament). The Pharisees knew this, as evidenced in the Luke 5.21 passage: And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

In light of the righteous punishment, how does God deal with our sin?

Psalms 103 says it best: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us! Imagine that! God REMOVES our transgressions from us!

Jehovah is a Holy God; He is a just God, in Whom is no unrighteousness. How can a sinful person stand righteous before God?

Through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (the full verse of Romans 3.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

But even in the Old Testament, before Jesus was born, God gave promise to His people that He would provide a Savior. Those who believed on that promise were able to grasp hold on it and praise God for His forgiveness, His grace and mercy. King David was such a one. David knew all about sin; he knew all about his God, too. David was a man after God’s own heart, and God loved him.

Just as He loves you.

We may have life! Eternal life, and life here abundantly! (John 10.10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.)

Let us praise our Great and Mighty God for His gracious riches in His Son, Jesus Christ! He daily showers us with blessings (Psalms 68.19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.)

God’s Word is the perfect medium for rejoicing and praising our glorious Savior. Receive the freeing forgiveness that God offers, and praise God with me:

Matthew 5.4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Psalms 103. 1{A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Hosea 14. 1O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. 4I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 5I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. 7They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. 9Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

Isaiah 44. 21Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. 23Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. 24Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Psalm 34. 15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. 20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Psalm 32. 1{A Psalm of David, Maschil.} Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 9Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

1 John 1.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalms 45.1{David’s Psalm of praise.} I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. 4One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. 5I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. 6And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. 7They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. 8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 10All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; 12To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. 14The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. 15The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 16Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. 18The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. 20The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

We shall go out with joy and be led forth with PEACE! Praise God!

Isaiah 55.12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

A Sad Place to Visit, and I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

ASadPlaceToVisitButIWouldntWantToLiveThere

A wayward life, a ghastly past,

Sin in my heart, a life-long mask.

Stealing, lying, raping and killing,

All mournful deeds, wrenching and chilling.

 

Loss of a child, ripped from a heart,

Broken marriage, torn apart.

Abuse of a child, or partner or friend,

Fractured hearts, impossible to mend.

 

Now comes the Savior, He for to heal

Miracles flow, hearts to seal

With His blood cleansing, claiming His own

Gathering His children, bringing them home.

 

Caring and soothing, shaping and mending,

New place to live, no more pretending

To live in fear or doubt or unease;

Basking in joy and love and peace.

 

But what of those memories, those dark inner thoughts,

That keep intruding and cause such knots

Of turmoil and sadness and regrets of things past –

What to do with those burdens held fast?

 

Lay aside every weight, and the sin which ensnares,

Casting all care upon Him; because for you He cares.

Turn your mourning into dancing, praise Him always,

Obey Him unto the end of your days.

 

And of those dark recesses, those past mournful times,

Visit them sometimes, and use the eyes

That God has given, for you to perceive

That all things work for Him, to those who believe.

 

Use God’s perspective to view these past wrongs;

Turn your mournings into new songs.

There is now therefore no condemnation

Dance with His saints in communal celebration.

Change Your Past (Revisited)

Originally posted Sept 1, 2018

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t know what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

Forgiveness (Revisited)

Originally posted July 28, 2018

forgiveness pic

So, you still have told me nothing about ‘the incident,’ as you put it.

You pretty much know what happened.

Well, that’s only what I’ve heard from other people. It’s not the same as your perspective, and I think it would help our relationship if we could talk about it.

I don’t talk about it.

Can we talk about it without discussing what actually happened?

Sure, we can skirt around it all you want. But I will say one thing up front. Being a guy, you’re never going to understand the perspective of a victim like I do.

You’re right. One, I have never been a victim like you have. And, mine is the perspective of the male, the one who is usually the authority, the stronger, the dominant one. I think you know me well enough by now that you know I view my gender as a gift from God, to handle wisely and lovingly; that He created us both, male and female, as different but equal.

Yeah, I get that. And you must know that I trust you, given that we’re even having this conversation.

Thank you for that. Please know I will never knowingly break that trust. If I come close, you will let me know?

Yep, and ditto for me?

Yes.

~silence~

From our previous discussions, I know that you’re struggling with your relationship with God because of the incident. You’re upset that He would as willingly forgive those men who hurt you as He forgives you.

He doesn’t seem like a fair God.

Do you have difficulty seeing Him as a God Who loves you?

I get that He loves the world, you know, the whole, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Do you think He loves you, personally?

I’ve seen His grace in my life a lot. I mean, like a lot. I credit Him with my rescue in the first place. That could never have happened if God hadn’t intervened. And I do thank Him for that, I really do. I think that shows His love for me. And other things. Yes, I think God loves me.

So, God loves you, but you’re mad that He loves those guys as much as He loves you?

No, He can love them as much as He wants. But, for what they did, they should never be forgiven. They should never get to spend eternity with Him because they should go to hell. That’s justice and righteous. God is a God of justice and righteousness, too.

I agree that those men deserve hell for what they did…. Do you think you deserve hell for your sins?

You do NOT get to put me in the same category with them! I would never do to anyone what they did, over and over and OVER!

I’m sorry that happened.

Listen, I have to get going. I think we’re finished talking for today.

I get that. Before we part, I’ll leave you with these verses: James 2.10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Also Jeremiah 17.9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” And you know Romans 6.23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

That’s the part I’m so mad about. Goodbye.

~~~~~~

It’s been a while. Have you been able to process?

Yeah, I admit I sin. Everybody does, I know I’m not a saint or even close to it.

But?

But I’m NOT like them. I could never be like them. They do NOT deserve forgiveness.

Do you deserve forgiveness?

Of course not. No one does. But God gives grace, and He gave me grace.

But you’re mad that He could pour out His grace on those men.

You would be, too! You have never been in my shoes, but I’m pretty sure you would feel the same way if you were.

I’ll never know, Lord willing.

No. So don’t speak to me like you ever will.

I can’t. All I can do is give you what God says.

I KNOW what He says! And that’s what makes me mad at Him!

So you think there should be a rule, some sort of plumb line that, if a person crosses it, then they are automatically scratched from the Heaven list.

Absolutely!

Well, there is such a plumb line. Any sin keeps us from Heaven. But you think that some sins can be forgiven and be on the Heaven side, and some sins can’t be forgiven, and be on the hell side.

Something like that.

So you think your rules are better than God’s?

I think it’s only right.

And that God’s wrong?

Listen, I know that God’s never wrong. I know what the Bible says, and He’s perfect and all that. I just don’t agree that He should ever forgive people like that.

Maybe He didn’t.

That’s not the point. The point is that He could. God can forgive anyone, and He does! He just chooses, and He grabs them, and He changes their hearts and then they get to go to Heaven.

And that’s not okay?

Not after what they’ve done.

And you can’t forgive them?

NO..

So, again, I ask: Do you think your rules are better than God’s?

I’ll leave it at this: I know God’s right. He gets to make the rules. I just don’t like all of them, and I don’t agree with Him. He’s a big God. I think He can take a little disagreement. … … I have to go now.

Then today I leave you with these: 1Samuel 15.23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” And Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

~~~~~

I agreed to meet with you today. Don’t you think I’m doing really well?

Yes, I do. Why do you think you want to meet with me?

~sigh~ Because, against my better judgement, I like you very much, and I respect what you have to say.

If your judgement votes against me, who or what is the driving force behind you being here?

Oh brother. Okay, it’s God.

I’m going to agree with you on that one. I’m grateful He’s working in you. I’ll tell you, He’s been working in me, too. I’m struggling with this; not like you, but I’m ‘way not enough to cover this. I’ve had some pretty deep times with God. I know you pay attention to Him. Have you had good conversation with Him lately?

I did a study on the verses you left with me. Number one, I looked up idolatry. Basically I came to the conclusion that you’re hinting, ever so subtly, that I’m being stubborn in not agreeing with God, so I’m committing iniquity, or in iniquity, or however you put it. And that, because I think I’m right and He’s wrong, that I’m setting myself up as my idol, putting myself on the throne and deciding that I know best. That about cover it?

Did you hear my voice telling you that, or God’s?

Same thing, isn’t it?

Really no. Really really no.

Umph. Fine. That’s what God was telling me while I was reading His Word and studying it.

You didn’t like it, I take it?

Duh.

I never do, either. Hebrews 12.11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That means all of us are grieved when God chastens us. But, He gives us the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we learn from it.

So I have to learn from it in order to get the peace fruit.

Matthew 7.16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Do you want peace?

You know I do.

You already have the Holy Spirit within you, and He empowers you with the Fruit of the Spirit. Part of that is peace. Learn from Him. What about the second verse?

The forgiveness part?

Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I’m hitting a brick wall there, one that I prefer to walk away from.

I know you already know this, but I’m throwing it out anyway. Forgiveness isn’t for letting anyone off the hook. It’s for the forgiver. It’s one of God’s gifts for blessing you.

So I’ve heard.

My dear, you don’t have to generate forgiveness. It’s not in you. I see that, and I think you do, too. It’s not in anybody to forgive such a thing.

So, just let God do it in me or though me or whatever?

Pray about it. Just a tip: when I’m really struggling with something, wrestling with God, so to speak, it helps me to physically put myself in a position of obedience and worship.

What do you do? Kneel?

Well, actually, I … prostrate myself.

Like, on your belly?

Full out, face down, nose rubbing on whatever is under me. I humble myself and pour myself out to God, begging for His mercy on me.

~gulp~ Umm

Here’s a tissue.

I can’t even think about that without crying. I really don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know that I even want to. What about 1 John 1.9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” Can I confess my sin of unforgiveness and be forgiven?

I think God will handle that. Just give it to Him.

Expectations

Do you go to the movies? Sometimes we go to a movie after we’ve heard all about it: seen the ads, watched the trailers online, heard our friends talk about it. We go with expectations. If everyone loved the movie and raves about it, our expectations are high. I hate going to a movie with high expectations; I’m almost always disappointed.

Expectations

I believe the truth will set us free from expectations.

Truth and expectations are related. However, make sure where the plumb line of your truth lies. Some think we live by our own truth, that we should do whatever our conscience and personal happiness monitor tells us.

“Expectations” is a relative term. It often depends on how we feel.

Our expectations are related to what we hold as truth.

Take a look at your own expectations. You expect your spouse to be kind and understanding? Think your kids should be grateful? You get angry when things don’t go as you think they ought? You expected good health for yourself / your loved one / your friend / children? You expected a smooth drive to your destination today?

Hard truths:

  • You don’t deserve to live; you deserve to die. (Romans 6.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
  • You don’t deserve to be happy; you deserve to suffer the consequences of your sin. (Psalm 34.16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.)
  • Truth is what God says (read His Word), not what the world says. (John 17.17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.)
  • Truth is what God says (read His Word), not what your conscience tells you. (Romans 8.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.)
  • You don’t have any goodness in you; neither does anyone else. (Psalm 14.2, 3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.)
  • There is no way you can go to Heaven without Jesus. (John 14.6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.)
  • You don’t have any good works in you; nobody has any good works in them. (John 15.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.)
  • God created evil. (Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Proverbs 16.4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Colossians 1.16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.)

Those truths are what we are in and of ourselves: nothing, evil, dead, wrong, lost.

EVERYBODY IS! We cannot expect other people to be any better than what we are. We can expect that we hurt other people, and other people hurt us – really, really badly.

Disappointment, disgust, disapproval, disillusionment, disrespect, bitterness, jealousy, hurt feelings – all these come from expectations.

But look!

The truth is, we must set our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12.2); the Perfecter of who we are and who we can become.

Also true:

  • God created us in love (Jeremiah 31.1 I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion.)
  • God redeems. (Isaiah 44.24 the LORD, thy redeemer… he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself)
  • God will guide you into truth (John 16.13 … when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…)
  • He cherishes you. He is powerful and can save you. (Zephaniah 3.17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.)
  • God gives us hope. (Isaiah 44.22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.)

God says we are loveable, cherished, special, and made in His image. Through Christ, we are redeemed, worthy, righteous, and alive.

When I go to movies, I try to set my expectations to zero. If I have low expectations, then I can be pleasantly surprised (maybe) with how it turns out.

We can similarly set our expectations when dealing with people. Are we to set them at zero, expect the worst from everyone? There is no set pattern. God doesn’t work that way. Set your heart and mind on God. See what He says. But do remember that we are all fallen – ALL of us. Forgive. Give grace. God’s grace.

Change Your Past

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: I didn’t know at the time that he was abused, himself, that he learned those things from someone he loved and trusted. It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t understand what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

3 2 1 Quote Forgiveness

forgiveness pic

Stuart, thank you for giving me this opportunity, for nominating me. Also, thank you for the flexibility, because I broke the rules. I created a series of quotes, as a conversation. I sat and typed as the words fell out. I did use your topic, though: forgiveness.

Go ahead and grab your coffee; this is longer than usual.

*****

So, you still have told me nothing about ‘the incident,’ as you put it.

You pretty much know what happened.

Well, that’s only what I’ve heard from other people. It’s not the same as your perspective, and I think it would help our relationship if we could talk about it.

I don’t talk about it.

Can we talk about it without discussing what actually happened?

Sure, we can skirt around it all you want. But I will say one thing up front. Being a guy, you’re never going to understand the perspective of a victim like I do.

You’re right. One, I have never been a victim like you have. And, mine is the perspective of the male, the one who is usually the authority, the stronger, the dominant one. I think you know me well enough by now that you know I view my gender as a gift from God, to handle wisely and lovingly; that He created us both, male and female, as different but equal.

Yeah, I get that. And you must know that I trust you, given that we’re even having this conversation.

Thank you for that. Please know I will never knowingly break that trust. If I come close, you will let me know?

Yep, and ditto for me?

Yes.

~silence~

From our previous discussions, I know that you’re struggling with your relationship with God because of the incident. You’re upset that He would as willingly forgive those men who hurt you as He forgives you.

He doesn’t seem like a fair God.

Do you have difficulty seeing Him as a God Who loves you?

I get that He loves the world, you know, the whole, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Do you think He loves you, personally?

I’ve seen His grace in my life a lot. I mean, like a lot. I credit Him with my rescue in the first place. That could never have happened if God hadn’t intervened. And I do thank Him for that, I really do. I think that shows His love for me. And other things. Yes, I think God loves me.

So, God loves you, but you’re mad that He loves those guys as much as He loves you?

No, He can love them as much as He wants. But, for what they did, they should never be forgiven. They should never get to spend eternity with Him because they should go to hell. That’s justice and righteous. God is a God of justice and righteousness, too.

I agree that those men deserve hell for what they did…. Do you think you deserve hell for your sins?

You do NOT get to put me in the same category with them! I would never do to anyone what they did, over and over and OVER!

I’m sorry that happened.

Listen, I have to get going. I think we’re finished talking for today.

I get that. Before we part, I’ll leave you with these verses: James 2.10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Also Jeremiah 17.9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” And you know Romans 6.23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

That’s the part I’m so mad about. Goodbye.

~~~~~~

It’s been a while. Have you been able to process?

Yeah, I admit I sin. Everybody does, I know I’m not a saint or even close to it.

But?

But I’m NOT like them. I could never be like them. They do NOT deserve forgiveness.

Do you deserve forgiveness?

Of course not. No one does. But God gives grace, and He gave me grace.

But you’re mad that He could pour out His grace on those men.

You would be, too! You have never been in my shoes, but I’m pretty sure you would feel the same way if you were.

I’ll never know, Lord willing.

No. So don’t speak to me like you ever will.

I can’t. All I can do is give you what God says.

I KNOW what He says! And that’s what makes me mad at Him!

So you think there should be a rule, some sort of plumb line that, if a person crosses it, then they are automatically scratched from the Heaven list.

Absolutely!

Well, there is such a plumb line. Any sin keeps us from Heaven. But you think that some sins can be forgiven and be on the Heaven side, and some sins can’t be forgiven, and be on the hell side.

Something like that.

So you think your rules are better than God’s?

I think it’s only right.

And that God’s wrong?

Listen, I know that God’s never wrong. I know what the Bible says, and He’s perfect and all that. I just don’t agree that He should ever forgive people like that.

Maybe He didn’t.

That’s not the point. The point is that He could. God can forgive anyone, and He does! He just chooses, and He grabs them, and He changes their hearts and then they get to go to Heaven.

And that’s not okay?

Not after what they’ve done.

And you can’t forgive them?

NO..

So, again, I ask: Do you think your rules are better than God’s?

I’ll leave it at this: I know God’s right. He gets to make the rules. I just don’t like all of them, and I don’t agree with Him. He’s a big God. I think He can take a little disagreement. … … I have to go now.

Then today I leave you with these: 1Samuel 15.23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” And Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

~~~~~

I agreed to meet with you today. Don’t you think I’m doing really well?

Yes, I do. Why do you think you want to meet with me?

~sigh~ Because, against my better judgement, I like you very much, and I respect what you have to say.

If your judgement votes against me, who or what is the driving force behind you being here?

Oh brother. Okay, it’s God.

I’m going to agree with you on that one. I’m grateful He’s working in you. I’ll tell you, He’s been working in me, too. I’m struggling with this; not like you, but I’m ‘way not enough to cover this. I’ve had some pretty deep times with God. I know you pay attention to Him. Have you had good conversation with Him lately?

I did a study on the verses you left with me. Number one, I looked up idolatry. Basically I came to the conclusion that you’re hinting, ever so subtly, that I’m being stubborn in not agreeing with God, so I’m committing iniquity, or in iniquity, or however you put it. And that, because I think I’m right and He’s wrong, that I’m setting myself up as my idol, putting myself on the throne and deciding that I know best. That about cover it?

Did you hear my voice telling you that, or God’s?

Same thing, isn’t it?

Really no. Really really no.

Umph. Fine. That’s what God was telling me while I was reading His Word and studying it.

You didn’t like it, I take it?

Duh.

I never do, either. Hebrews 12.11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That means all of us are grieved when God chastens us. But, He gives us the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we learn from it.

So I have to learn from it in order to get the peace fruit.

Matthew 7.16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Do you want peace?

You know I do.

You already have the Holy Spirit within you, and He empowers you with the Fruit of the Spirit. Part of that is peace. Learn from Him. What about the second verse?

The forgiveness part?

Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I’m hitting a brick wall there, one that I prefer to walk away from.

I know you already know this, but I’m throwing it out anyway. Forgiveness isn’t for letting anyone off the hook. It’s for the forgiver. It’s one of God’s gifts for blessing you.

So I’ve heard.

My dear, you don’t have to generate forgiveness. It’s not in you. I see that, and I think you do, too. It’s not in anybody to forgive such a thing.

So, just let God do it in me or though me or whatever?

Pray about it. Just a tip: when I’m really struggling with something, wrestling with God, so to speak, it helps me to physically put myself in a position of obedience and worship.

What do you do? Kneel?

Well, actually, I … prostrate myself.

Like, on your belly?

Full out, face down, nose rubbing on whatever is under me. I humble myself and pour myself out to God, begging for His mercy on me.

~gulp~ Umm

Here’s a tissue.

I can’t even think about that without crying. I really don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know that I even want to. What about 1 John 1.9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” Can I confess my sin of unforgiveness and be forgiven?

I think God will handle that. Just give it to Him.

*****

This quote challenge was generated by the person behind https://aguycalledbloke.blog/

You choose 3 bloggers to write 2 quotes, each, on 1 word given to them by you. If you want a better example of how it’s supposed to be done, click over to Stuart’s post: https://stubaby777.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/3-2-1-quote-me-love

My nominations are:

Amy https://anewlife256599767.wordpress.com/

William https://walkwithgod.blog/

Vickie https://vicklea.com/

These are completely optional, no obligation. I just love reading your stuff. 😊

The word for the quote is: Peace