Luke 11:2-4 - Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us…
I believe we cannot underestimate the critical importance of forgiveness. Forgive. We must learn to forgive and live with this posture as long as we have breath. The word for forgive is aphiémi and it means to LET GO, RELEASE, “I SEND AWAY” We have each journaled about forgiveness many times over the years… and yet the need for this action is still a critical one in my life. I wonder yours too? How can I send away the painful memories and hurts of the past? How do I release them? Within the definition of this Greek word there is a strong implication of a human action or willful posture which can release the pain of offense. Jesus puts such a demand on forgiveness our own forgiveness weighs in the balance.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
“GO” - Jesus
Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew 6 on prayer Jesus commands us to forgive and in the forgiving HE says to GO. Most of the quotes, antidotes, and human wisdom on forgiveness say to basically pretend it’s not there by trying to see the offense in another way. Jesus says to GO, face the person and reconcile the differences. Don’t come back until forgiveness has been achieved. Forgiveness, in my opinion, isn’t playing mental games and meditating on the sin, pain, or hurt… It’s about doing what Jesus demands. GO to the person that the offense is with and seek reconciliation thru Biblical means. Gandhi and so many other philosophers suggest the mental, personal, and mind-altering exercise of letting go is an internal exercise. Jesus says, do the action of forgiveness and GO. Somehow, I believe that in doing this we can expect a supernatural healing as we obey by GOing and seeking personal reconciliation with the offender. I know this is not a simple or easy task. I want to test the scripture in this and find freedom from pain. Lets all take a moment and contemplate what it means to GO. What does that look like for you in your situation?
John 6:45 - It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God”.
The reference Jesus is referring to is Isaiah 54:13 - “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed, it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.”
We, the righteous, will be taught by the Lord. As Isaiah prophesied, and Jesus quoted saying; “ALL your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their, (our) peace” We will have victory over our enemy the devil and IN righteousness we will be established. Jesus is our righteousness and we are established thru/IN Him. I have been reading through the scripture noting the many times we are called Christ followers as “IN HIM”. For example; Acts 17:28 - For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ We are HIS family as we are IN HIM and we are His children. Amazing to contemplate. He will teach us and is teaching us.
The challenge for us is comprehending when He is teaching us…I contend, always! Jesus is teaching us everyday, and in every moment of everyday. If we are aware of His love for us as family, His eternal comprehensive care which is beyond our imagination to grasp is always teaching us, leading us and guiding our way. This is awesome right? The Pharisees were not teachable. Am I teachable? I think so… are you? Teachable? Or is the hurt of life, the pain of the past, debilitating painful abuse keeping us from having a teachable attitude. May all of us be teachable. Putting the past behind, we press toward the mark of the high calling we find IN CHRIST JESUS. Philippians 3:13-14.
Matthew 15:28 - Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
I like the idea of great faith being measured by perseverance and humility. This woman was strong and determined to see her daughter healed. She also was prepared to give the answer to turn the heart of God toward her daughter. There is something to be said for perseverance with God. If God doesn’t answer the way we want Him to answer or the answer is NO at first, what do we do then? How important is it to us? Are we willing to press thru to get the answer we seek? Give the answer Jesus is looking for? Jesus taught us in Matt. 6: we don’t need to keep on asking over and over again because He knows what we need before we ask Him. On the other hand, this story tells us we still ask when NO is the first answer from Jesus. One measure of faith might be seen in “I will not take NO for an answer”. NO is NOT the answer for me. Can we turn or change the heart of God toward us? Do we even want to? I would think in some cases we want the heart of God to be changed and in other cases, trusting HIS will is the best course of action. The reality from this story is how bad do we want it? I am not taking NO on this one.
John 11:39-41 - Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
As I was driving along I put on some worship music and wanted to have some alone time in prayer, reflection. It was a great time. As I was driving along, I got to thinking about MY old story of wanting God to visit me on my terms and show me who He is as a revelation, a vision, or a real visitation as we read about often in scripture. As I was driving I felt the gentleness of God leading my thoughts to think of finding God on His terms and not mine. Jesus said, “I don’t do anything unless the Father shows me”, John 5:19. Jesus can see what the Father is doing and follows His lead?? So, I began to ask the Father to show me what He is doing so that I will choose to follow it. My prayer then changed in my truck to: “I want to see what you are doing Abba”.
I think I need to look and ask differently in the days ahead for direction. Often, I look to my own senses or logic to find direction. I choose the common sense direction which seems or feels good to me. I want God to show up on my terms and the way I want to see Him. Jesus, show me where you are going and show me how you want to show me. I put my terms and desires away in exchange for yours. The best I can anyway. In Jesus name.
John 11:14-15 - So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Here, Jesus allows a man he loves, Lazarus to die to show His glory so the unbelieving would possibly believe. Jesus also loved Mary and Martha…Jesus spent the last weeks of his life in their home at least for some amount of time. It was said they were as close as family to Jesus. Jesus put these woman thru a fair amount of pain for four or more days as they mourned the loss of their brother. Wow, such pain. Short-term pain for a long term gain. We don’t know who believed as a result of Lazarus resurrection. I would think there would have been many as this story when racing thru the community. This got me thinking about short-term pain for long term gain. Pain is part of creation and part of God’s plan to strengthen us.
Like a muscle, it needs to be torn and put thru short term suffering for the longer term strength. The more short term stretching, tearing, pressure and pain, the stronger the muscle. “Deep core strength”. We can see how God works even in our own bodies. If we spend our lives in avoidance of pain we could easily be weakening ourselves and those that we love.
Embracing short term pain for the riches of the Glory of God is worth it. Maybe we give up some sinful pleasures or we give of our virtue to aid another. In any case, the challenge before us is that pain does strengthen us. Embracing the challenges of life and the trials which will surely come can be a positive sign of growth. Pain equals gain.
June 12, 2014
John 8:31-32 - To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“You will know”… is translated into one word, ginóskó which means “to come to know” or maybe better stated, “to grow into knowing, or learning thru process of taking it in”. This word is used when describing an intimate relationship, “to know a woman”. The “knowing” of Jesus is experiential. The word implies an investment, to know deeply over time, and to experience Jesus time and time again as someone personal and deep. To the Jews who believed in Jesus, He was saying, “Hold on to what I have told you, given you, shown you, and taught you over the time you have seen me.” The truth of Jesus’ teaching and life lessons comes from walking with Him. Holding on to the truth shown to us over time. The deep personal stuff.
Jesus has shown me mercy. I can see it throughout my entire life. It is a steady, constant and familiar lesson He has given me time and time again…Mercy. He has not treated me as my sins deserve. He has given me patience, love, understanding and FAVOR. Looking back, I can see a lifetime of lessons learned…and the road ahead, more lessons to learn. Intimacy takes time. Relationship takes time. Look back. Can you see God’s hand in your life? Rick Warren says it this way… “We come to know God better as we begin each day by asking Jesus to show me how to get a little closer and show YOUR love a little better”.
John 9:41 - Safer still.
John 9:41 - Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
I got to thinking this morning about what I claim to be truth. I claim Jesus to be the son of God and the savior of the world. Safe. I believe God, thru His son and Holy Spirit, desires a personal relationship with us, His creation. Safe. I believe in heaven and the afterlife. If the others be true, the latter is also safe. I would confess to these being absolute or at least an axiom. Beyond this, what can I see? What do you see? What principle or statement of truth would we stake our lives upon.
One principle Jesus was consistently frustrated with was how the Pharisees used religion to manipulate the populous for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Using the human interpretation of scripture’s “rules” to control and motivate by guilt. I do pray the modern church would turn to love and step away from legalism. Love is blind. Or is it? Lets grow in love and show grace toward sin. Being aware of the sin within ourselves and blind to the sin of others allowing God to hold those accountable to Him and not ourselves…safer still.
Mark 1:15 - “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Charles Spurgeon spoke on a Thursday night Bible study of the good news…”And, once again, we have to bring this good news,—that the Lord has not only made a way for his poor wandering children to come back to him, but he has provided all the means needed to bring them back.”
Our God and Father has provided all we need to come back to Him. He is already here. we just need to return to him. Believe and receive… All we need! This is such a wonderful, truthful statement for our entire world. In this scripture, Jesus is telling us to repent (turn around and walk the other way) and believe the good news. The good news is Abba has provided as way for to be reconciled back to God with eternity for all of us.
Thank you Jesus.
My Father in Law, Moses Vegh, died on Saturday, January 25th, 2014. I was at his deathbed and watched a man of God go into eternity…we read scripture all night and he was constantly saying, “Randy, I know the good news, I know the source of the good news and I am about ready to meet the good news…if I’m not healed.” Watching a man of God who “knows” the good news is hopeful and brings freedom. Run to Jesus, HE is the good news for all of us and our eternity.
John 8:45 - I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
Accepting the truth. These men, the Pharisees, didn’t want to believe the truth Jesus was teaching because it would change reality for them. What happens when Jesus teaches us and our reality changes? Our values change and what we thought about Christianity takes a turn from tradition to a different life. What is Jesus’ idea of truth?? He has high value for the poor and much lessor value to the religious practice…Jesus is life to the sinner and death to tradition, legalism and man’s structure. How do we find Jesus in the current traditional structure? This is my challenging thought this morning. What does Jesus say is truth…?
I made a rather bold statement in teaching this past weekend saying “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do”. How do we start with love, acceptance and understanding FIRST. Jesus called us to love in 1 Cor. 13. What does this love look like? Let’s begin with unconditional love and let Abba do the convicting. God does the judging, we do the loving. The Bible is the measurement for truth…LOVE AND CARE FOR THE POOR….our response to His word is to love.