Forgiveness

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March 15

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

“My dad can beat up your dad.”  “My dad is smarter than your dad.” “My mom is prettier than your mom.”

Remember those days? (I have a hard time because they were so long ago. 🙂 ) That game is still played by kids…and adults. The comparison game.

It never stops. Sports. Academics. Opposite sex attraction. Jobs. Friends. Physical stature (“I’m taller/stronger/faster than you are now.”) Church size (“We had x number of people this past Sunday.”) Sin.

Sin? Back the truck up!! Yes sin. When was the last time you heard someone say, “My sin is so much greater than yours so I deserve a much greater punishment”? On rare occasions…maybe…you might hear someone who is truly humble and will admit their sin. Most often it is more common to hear someone say their sin is not as bad as that person over there. “I don’t do this or that.” “I haven’t committed adultery.” “I haven’t left my spouse.” On and on the “I haven’t” goes.

Only when we see our sin in light of God’s unrelenting grace and the sinless Son of God will we see a more truthful picture of who we really are. When I think I am more righteous than I am I become a Pharisee like the one in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18: 9-17.

God sees me for who I am. He is infinitely smarter than me. It would be much better for me to approach Him as a tax collector than a Pharisee. Comparisons pushed aside.

“Father, may I see myself as You see me…as I really am.”

March 7

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Try as I may there is one thing I simply cannot stop doing: sinning. I can wake up with all the resolve in the world, but it isn’t very long before I can rack up      sin #1. Than sin #2. Then sin #3. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. Romans 3: 23 haunts me more than i want to think about. I fall short of God’s holy standard.

When I used to talk to young people about coming to Christ, I used to describe sin like a person pole-vaulting. His goal is to get over the bar. The pole vaulter gets set, runs down the track, plants the pole and doesn’t go over it. He might come up way short. He might knock the bar down. But unless he clears it, he is disqualified.

Sin is like that. Disqualifying us. Now, there are three approaches we can take:

  1. We can deny the evidence. You know…never admit sin. I believe that is called blindness and arrogance.
  2. We can wallow in our guilt and shame. Been there, done that. The reality of sin  overwhelms us. This is especially true of repetitive sin.
  3. In our grief and brokenness, we can come to the only One who can forgive us. The choice: flee or come. Run to God or run away. Why would anyone want to run away from the only One who could bring peace and relief?

“Father, I know I sin every day. Instead of denying or hiding, help me to always run to You.”

 

March 3

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.” So the Apostle Paul says in Gal. 6:14. What does that mean?

The title of this blog is “Living in the Shadow.”  Shadow of what? We all know what a shadow is. “A dark area of shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.”  It’s also used in reference to proximity.  Think “me and my shadow.” My idea for the title was “what is it like to live in the shadow of the cross?”

Well, for one, we learn who we are. At the foot of the cross there is no rich or poor, black or white, male or female, slave or free (to borrow Paul’s words). Someone has said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” The cross reminds us who we are-sinners in need of God’s grace. There is no need-no, there is no warrant for us to think we don’t need to be there or that we are not as bad off as someone else. At the foot of the cross there is no way we can or should think more highly of ourselves.

As we learn who we are, we also learn who God is. As we become more and more aware of our sinful state, we should also become more and more aware of God’s unrelenting grace. No need for me to clean up first; God does that for me.

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ” is good advice for all of us.  Come to think of it; I have no reason to boast except in the cross. I certainly can’t boast about anything I have done. That is a losing game.

March 1

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Have you ever noticed that sometimes simple is best? You go into a restaurant and you are hungry for a cheeseburger. But many restaurants don’t have just a cheeseburger. They have a double cheese with bacon, avocado, onion, BBQ sauce…okay the whole kitchen sink. Its so sloppy you spend more time wiping your hands and mouth and beard (if applicable), or your shirt that you can’t even taste the cheeseburger.

I like wings-boneless- thank you very much. I don’t like them hot. I know one restaurant with so many sauces one can’t make up their mind. And to top it off they have a 3 or 5 alarm sauce. No thank you. I want to enjoy my wings. Carolina Gold with some Ranch on the side sounds really good about now.  Oops its only 5:15 a.m. 🙂

The book of Philemon-which I read this morning- is like that. Simple. To the point. People love Romans and the prison epistles that Paul wrote. I do too. But sometimes a simple message is enough. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who ran away.  Somewhere along the line he was converted under Paul’s ministry and Paul wanted to honor Philemon by doing what was right-he offered Onesimus back to him. He could have ordered Philemon to take him (v.8), but instead he appealed to him as a friend and a lover of Jesus (v.9). If Philemon didn’t want Onesimus, Paul did!  But he wanted Philemon’s consent (v.14).

Simple. Direct. Loving. Respectful. Paul shows us how it is done. Friendship is worth preserving no matter your lot in life. No matter your likes or dislikes.

“Father, friendship is so important. Thank you for this postcard by Paul to show us how it is done. May I be a friend who is loving and respectful in all things.”

February 24

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

I’m a little late getting here this morning. An icy night slowed down some things. But here I am! 🙂 🙂

“Not me.” “Not me.” “Not me.”

If she heard it once she heard it a thousand times. My mom raised 4 boys. There was 10 years difference between me and the youngest brother so he was too young to get in on the “not me” party.

Something happened. Mom found out. She would line us up and ask which one of us did it. “Not me” three times. Then she would look at one of my brothers and say, “Why did you do it?”  The weeping and gnashing of teeth would appear and the different reasons out of their mouths, but she had found her culprit. My brothers were guilty and she exposed their lie.

As it was, so it still is. Not with them. I’m not that aware of all that is going on in their worlds to be the “action police.” No, I’m talking on a daily basis. The “not me” was an attempt to shift the blame elsewhere and not take responsibility.

We all tend to think we are more righteous than we are. We don’t like to think we are messed up as we are, as in need of God’s grace as we are, as sinful as we are. I’m good (maybe you too?) at throwing out the excuses and looking for someone else to throw under the bus.  Making excuses seems to be easier than admitting fault.

I was in a meeting yesterday with some area folks where accountability was brought up as something missing in a certain organization. And that is what all this is about. Accountability before a God who knows all, but wants us to admit our sin, confess it and seek His grace.

It is time for an honest reckoning of our need for God’s unlimited and forgiving grace…as we are honest and accountable to Him.

“Father, the ‘not me’ doesn’t work with You. You want and need me to be honest with You and with myself.”

P.S. As you probably noted, I highlighted their guilt in the “not me” scenario.” It stands to reason I was guilty…once or twice or….

January 31

Monday, January 31st, 2022

For my communion thought yesterday I shared the following:

Paul David Tripp in his book, New Morning Mercies, wrote this: “Face it, your most brilliant act of righteousness wouldn’t measure up to God’s standards; that’s why you’ve been give the grace of Jesus.” (January 30)

He goes on to write;

The more you understand the magnitude of God’s grace, the more accurate will be your view of the depth of your unrighteousness; and the more you understand the depth of your unrighteousness, the more you will appreciate the magnitude of God’s grace.

To understand God’s grace we need to understand sin. Sin in a condition of the heart which affects us all. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” It might be easy for us to deflect attention from our sin by placing more blame on someone else’s sin, but that doesn’t work with God.

God didn’t leave us in this sorry, helpless, and hopeless state. He sent His Son to do what we could not do. We can stand before a holy God-perfect in every way- broken, imperfect, weak and frail and be unafraid because Jesus stands in our place and says, “He’s mine.” (Or she’s mine). When God looks at us He sees Jesus and sees perfection, Christ’s perfection.  What is really cool is that Romans 6 says, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid.” God’s grace is always greater than my sin. That is not a license to sin, but it does give thought to the greatness of His grace.

Can there be any better news than that?

“Father, thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus. Thank you for His willingness to stand in my place. And than You for the magnitude of Your grace.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

January 18

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

A couple of nights ago Jo was watching TV and as I was walking through I stopped to watch. It was an episode I had seen before on NCIS about the death of a homeless vet. It was at the end of the show when Gibbs was scrolling through his computer looking at vets who died homeless.  Director Vance walked in and said, “There but for the grace of God.”  Gibbs said, “Yep.”

That is a very familiar saying (“There but for the grace of God go I”). It is also a saying which can be said with no religious connotation at all. It is simple an acknowledgment of gratitude and recognition that another person’s fate is not our own.

But for the Christ-follower that phrase takes on a much deeper meaning. Think about it: all we are/ all we are not; all we have/all we have not, comes down to grace. Consider these words: “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all to fall on Him.” (Is.53:6- NASB2020)) Other translations conclude that verse with “and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (sin) of us all.”

We were not left alone, lost, or hopeless in despair. Not with Jesus! Isaiah tells us that Jesus chose to identify with us and become our substitute all. because. of. grace.

I would be lost. I would be lonely. I would be hopeless. I would be aimless. “There but for the grace go I.”

“Father, thank You for Your unlimited grace. Thank You for rescuing my sorry and lost soul and raising me to new life.”

January 17

Monday, January 17th, 2022

First,  some updates for you. Funny how God works. I have been wondering how Martha and Diane have been doing so I emailed Diane but wasn’t sure if Martha would be able to do that. But as I was looking I saw a post-it-note with her address (I had sent her something) and a phone number. Lo and behold it was hers!  Martha texted back and said she was doing much better and hoped to come home tomorrow (Tuesday).  She was in ICU with viral pneumonia (not COVID-related).

Diane is suffering from COVID-pneumonia.  She is now home after 7 days in the hospital. Still on oxygen. Please keep praying for her.

Now to the devotion for today:

In preparation for the next sermon series called “Truth Decay,” I just finished reading Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers for the second time. In a chapter she entitled Cosmic Child Abuse? she took on the progressives who want to say the following:

“Who originated the cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser.” (p.207) William Paul Young, author of the heretical book “The Shack.”

“Penal substitution {Note: one dying in place of another} is tantamount to child abuse.” (p.208) Steve Chalke

“God didn’t set up the sacrificial system. People did. The sacrificial system evolved as humans developed rituals and rites to help them deal with their guilt and fear.” (p.209) Rob Bell

Others like Richard Rohr and the late Rachel Held Evans were also included. Their quotes were too long to include.

I reject the whole idea of God as a cosmic child abuser. God’s wrath seen at the cross existed because He is love. It was through the death of Jesus on the cross that we find forgiveness NOT wrath.

In Galatians 6:14 Paul wrote, “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.”  The progressives can say, “May I never boast except in man’s efforts/ingenuity.” Guaranteed that unless they come to the cross, they will most definitely experience God’s wrath (which they say doesn’t exist because He is a God of love not wrath).

“Father, thank you for the cross.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

December 21

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

“Do not be afraid (Fear not); for behold, I bring you good news of great joy…” Luke 2:10 (NASB2020)

Those words are meaningful and bring comfort to many. Tragically, there also many whose lives are overrun by fear. It’s almost like they live in a perpetual horror movie. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of what lurks behind the door. Afraid of every person. Afraid of taking a step into the unknown. Paul David Tripp wrote: “There’s nothing that could ever be known, exposed, or revealed about you that isn’t covered by the present grace that is yours because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” (O Come Let us Adore Him-p.141)

The December 20th devotion from Our Daily Bread had the story of Linus from the Peanuts comic strip. Linus had a blue security blanket. He knew he should depend on it less but had trouble parting with it.

In the movie “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when a frustrated Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus steps forward, with security blanket in hand, and quotes Luke 2: 8-14. When he hits “Fear not” he drops his blanket-the thing he clung to when afraid.

That begs the question: what do you cling to? What is your security blanket? Remember the Scripture says, “Fear not.” At this time of the year, don’t you think it is good time to lay aside that heavy weight and trust Him for your security?

“Father, help me to lay aside that which I am afraid of and lean on You more.”

December 15

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

I read an eye-opening story in a recent devotion from Our Daily Bread (December 12).  Here is how it goes:

Beethoven was angry. He’d intended to name his Third Symphony “The Bonaparte.” In an age of religious and political tyranny, he saw Napoleon as a hero of the people and champion of freedom. But when the French general declared himself emperor, the celebrated composer changed his mind. Denouncing his former hero as a rascal and tyrant, he rubbed so hard to erase Bonaparte’s name that he left a hole in the original score.

Anger is a cancer. It often leads to hatred. I recently spoke with someone who has someone close to them whose life is consumed by hatred for one person. Having a hole in a musical score is one thing; having a hole in the heart is another.

The only way to take care of the hole in the score is to throw it away. The only way to take care of the hole in the heart is to give that hole, give that anger, to the Father. Holding onto a grudge is a killer-a killer of the spirit. Jesus said forgiveness is the way to go, to forgive as we have been forgiven.

“Father, help me to not hold on to hurts or things of the past. Help me to forgive.”